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Oil Painting - Pheidias and the Frieze of the Parthenon

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1923P118
Collection:Fine Art Paintings and Sculpture
Date:1868 - 1869

Maker Information

Artist:Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema - View biography for Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema


Alma-Tadema first saw the Elgin marbles from the Parthenon at the British Museum in 1862. The picture depicts an imaginary scene in which the sculptor Pheidias (fl. c.490-430 BC) shows his work to important Athenians, including the Athenian leader Pericles (d.429 BC). Alma-Tadema depicts the frieze in colour. At the time academics were debating whether the sculptures would have painted or not, for some it was unthinkable that Classical sculpture would be painted in bright 'fairground' colours. In 1877 when the picture was displayed in public for the first time it re-ignited the debate. We now know that the frieze and other Classical sculptures were painted.

Bequeathed by Sir John C Holder, Bt., 1923.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
School/Style:Old Master
Medium:Oil on mahogany panel.
Material(s):Mahogany wood


Height:725 mm
Width:1092 mm