In the Tepidarium

Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, UK

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Lawrence Alma-Tadema, 1881

nude painting (nu)

The Tepidarium depicts a warm Roman bath, of the same name. The woman on the sofa holds a large strategically placed ostrich feather and a strigil, which was used for scraping the skin after soaping and oiling it. The A and F Pears Soap Company originally bought the painting, intending to use it in a soap advertisement, but never did, for the fear that its erotic nude might shock customers. It was later sold to a private collector in 1916. This painting exemplifies Alma-Tadema’s ability to render exact architectural details with soft and luxurious textures, providing a glimpse of romantic reality.

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