Women of Amphissa, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
In the ‘Women of Amphissa’ the Dutch artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) depicts a scene from a story told by 1st century CE essayist Plutarch. The work is oil on canvas, painted in 1887. The artist was no stranger to painting beautiful scenes of classical tales.
The Ancient Story
The women sprawled on the ground are followers of Dionysus, the God of wine, and are seen recovering from a dancing ritual from the night before. These women originated from the city of Phocis, and had wandered into the marketplace of Amphissa. These two cities, however, were at war. The group lined at the back, clearly separated from their way of dress and posture, belong to Amphissa. Recognizing the danger the disoriented followers were in, the women of the city of Amphissa form a circle around them, offering their protection and giving them food.
By representing these two very different groups of women, Alma-Tadema touches on the themes of femininity, compassion, and charity.
The painting is in the collection of the Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts.
- The Clark. (n.d). THE WOMEN OF AMPHISSA. Retrieved from: https://www.clarkart.edu/Collection/786