Ruskin and Alma Tadema

John Ruskin, the art critic, had much to say on the work of Alma Tadema. He praised his work for his great and increasing technical accuracy and use of architectural detail, professing to learn himself from the work of Alma Tadema. On the other hand Ruskin said of The Pyrrhic Dance, Alma Tadema's great success at the RA exhibition, that

the general effect is exactly like a microscopic view of a small detachment of black beetles in search of a dead rat.

More hurtingly, in 1875 Ruskin wrote that

The actual facts which Shakespeare knew about Rome were in number and accuracy, compared to those which Mr Alma Tadema knows, as the pictures of a child's first story-book, compared to Smith's Dictionary of Antiquities. But Shakespeare knew Rome herself to the heart, and Mr Alma Tadema knows nothing of her but her shadow, and that, cast at sunset.

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