OIL PAINTING: Sappho and Alcaeus, 1881
The Greek poets Sappho and Alcaeus lived in Mytilene on the Isle of Lesbos in the 7th century BC.
The most important painting of year 1881 was Sappho and Alcaeus . It was Alma-Tadema's single entry into the Burlington House Summer Exhibition and well received by the Academy's visitors. Certain scholars, however, criticized Sappho and Alcaeus for its faulty archaeological detail. The Nation in 1886 was to berate the painting for inconsistencies in its inscriptions, costumes and furniture: 'an archaeology that gives us monstrous spellings and ludicrous costumes'. Several parodies of this oil found their way into Punch and Fun magazines. Sappho and Alcaeus was considered by Alma-Tadema to be a companion piece for the later painting A reading From Homer , 1885.