tadema portrait found by BBC

Art expert stunned by one of the “best pictures ever seen on Antiques Roadshow”– a lost, important portrait by Victorian artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Antiques Roadshow on BBC One this Sunday (25 September, 8.00pm) features a stunning discovery described as “one of the best pictures ever seen” by Antiques Roadshow pictures expert Rupert Maas. 

Rupert Maas said:  “Alma-Tadema was a Victorian Neoclassical painter, whose paintings inspired Cecil B de Mille - he is the most valuable Victorian artist today.”

The portrait, featuring the engraver Leopold Löwenstam, was brought to Antiques Roadshow’s filming day at Arley Hall, near Norwich, in Cheshire in June by the subject’s great-great grandson.

He told Rupert Maas:  "My great-great grandfather (Leopold Löwenstam) and the artist were close family friends and my great-great grandmother was the governess of Tadema’s children. The portrait was a wedding present in 1883 and it was exhibited at the Royal Academy a year later in 1884."

Rupert said:   “Tadema holds the record for a Victorian painting at $36 million for an enormous picture sold in New York a few years ago. This one doesn't quite reach that because it's not of a Neoclassical subject and it's not huge. But it is very, very good, and shows another, more painterly side of his work than the girls in togas sitting on marble benches that he is known for. I think this might be one of the best pictures we've ever seen on the Roadshow in its entire history. There are hardly any portraits of engravers at work at all, and this is one of the most telling and beautiful."

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Portrait of Leopold Löwenstam, the engraver, 1883, oilpaint on canvas, private collection, being placed in the Museum of Friesland. photo: Marchje Andringa.

Since the programme was filmed, the portrait has been restored and it will feature as part of the international touring exhibition of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema’s work, organised by the Dutch Museum of Friesland, starting 1 October 2016 in Leeuwarden (European Capital of Culture 2018) and coming to Leighton House in London in the fall of 2017.

Antiques Roadshow pictures expert Rupert Maas said:  “The news of the discovery of this lost important work has stunned the art world and I’m delighted people will get the chance to see it restored and alongside other great works.”

Curator of the Museum of Friesland and the exhibition, Marlies Stoter said:  “We are delighted that a portrait of Leopold Löwenstam has surfaced. The etcher was very important to Alma-Tadema. The careers of both men have many similarities, they left The Netherlands at an early age and moved to London in the beginning of the 1870’s. Soon after they became acquainted they started working together. Löwenstam then fell in love with Alice Search, the nanny of Alma-Tadema’s daughters, and they married. The reproduction prints Löwenstam made after Alma-Tadema’s master pieces helped to make the painter famous. We are delighted to hang their portraits next to each other in our exhibition.”