Preparations for the Festivities (The Floral Wreath)

A man converses with a woman as she threads a garland of flowers. Two servants—one veiled by a fabric screen on the left—decorate the Pompeian interior for a celebration. The setting is filled with archaeological details, including a marble fountain with a lion’s-head spout and bronze, animal-shaped cups. Scenes like this helped establish Alma-Tadema’s reputation as a painter of life in the ancient world.


Commissioned by Donner, Brussels (from 1866); Baron Jules de Hauff, Paris, sold to Goupil, 16 Dec. 1881; [Goupil, Paris, 1881, sold to Avery, 6 May 1882, as Préparatifs d’une fête];¹ [Samuel Putnam Avery, New York, from 1882, d. 1904]; Madeleine Dahlgren Townsend, New York, bequeathed to the Clark, 1981; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1982.

1. See Goupil Stock Books, book 10, p. 195, no. 15826. Avery also records his purchase in his own notes as “bought of Goupil . . . Tadema 850” (Notebook V, p. 110, 20 May 1882, in Avery 1979, 651–52).

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

British, born Netherlands, 1836–1912

Preparations for the Festivities (The Floral Wreath)


Oil on canvas

21 1/4 x 27 1/4 in. (54 x 69.2 cm) Frame: 32 5/8 x 38 x 3 in. (82.9 x 96.5 x 7.6 cm)

Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts. Bequest of Madeleine Dahlgren Townsend, 1982




Standing, Percy Cross. Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema O.M., R.A.. London: Cassell & Co., 1905.

Swanson, Vern G. The Biography and Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. London: Garton & Co., 1990.

Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012.