Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema Painting Makes $29.2 Million at Sotheby’s New York

A masterpiece by Victorian artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema set another incredible price at Sotheby’s New York today in the sale of 19th Century European Art. Two determined phone bidders held a steady competition for The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC for over eight minutes, driving the final price to a remarkable $29,202,500–nearly six times the pre-sale high estimate of $5 million.

Sir Lawrence Alma-TademaThe Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, 41 B.C. will lead Sotheby’s sale of 19th Century European Art in New York on May 5. Photo: Sotheby’s

In The Meeting of Antony and Cleopatra, 41 B.C., Alma-Tadema depicts one of the most storied moments in Roman-Egyptian history. Rather than using translations of ancient texts as source material, the artist instead draws inspiration for his composition from William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, which was regularly staged in London’s theaters at the time.

On 4 November 2010, Sotheby’s sold The Finding of Moses by Alma-Tadema for $35,922,500, more than seven times the pre-sale high estimate of $5 million and a new auction record for any work of 19th Century European Painting. The result also shattered the previous auction record for a Victorian painting–£6.6 million paid in 2000 for St. Cecilia by John William Waterhouse–by multiple factors. The monumental canvas was sought-after by three determined bidders who battled for nearly eight minutes. The previous record for the artist had been set by the same painting when it was sold in 1995 for $2.8 million. The Finding of Moses stands as on e of Alma- Tadema’s greatest masterpieces.

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