Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema was born Laurens Alma Tadema in 1836 in Holland. His parents thought art was no profession for a gentleman, and consequently, he actually worked himself into tuberculosis studying art and law at the same time. He became a British citizen, a Royal Academician and was knighted by Queen Victoria.
In 1863, Alma-Tadema and his first wife Pauline left Antwerp for an Italian honeymoon; visits to Florence, Rome, Naples and Pompeii would motivate a turn from the artist’s Merovingian (European medieval) subjects of the early 1860s to compositions like A Greek Woman, inspired by Antique culture and its art and artifact. That same year, Alma-Tadema drew the attention of Ernest Gambart, the powerful, London-based Belgian art dealer with representation throughout Europe. The relationship became so profitable—both financially and artistically—that Gambart and Alma-Tadema agreed to a commission of over seventy paintings.