Silver Favourites is a serenely beautiful painting, and it is typical of the works for which artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema is famous. The image features a trio of lovely young women, all of whom are clad in Classical garments. The women are preoccupied with the process of gazing at and feeding a small group of fish in a shallow pond - and indeed, these charming carp are the silver favorites alluded to in the title of the work.
In the foreground of the painting, a woman with auburn hair stands and delicately drops bits of food into the pond. This woman's stylized appearance is evocative of the female figures who adorn many pieces of ancient Greek vase painting, which is undoubtedly the effect the artist wanted to achieve. The gently curving vertical emphasis of the woman's body also contrasts well with the horizontal bands of sky, sea, and marble.
In addition it is worth noting that the frame of Silver Favourites reinforces the main subject of the painting, for it features a passage from William Wordsworth's Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase:
Where, sensitive of every ray,
That smites this tiny sea,
Your scaly panoplies repay
The loan with usury.
Ultimately this beautiful image simultaneously suggests the glorious Golden Age of Greece and Rome while also capturing the mood of nostalgia so popular during the Victorian era.
Rosemary Barrow is the author of this remarkable book about Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Barrow offers intriguing insights into the artist's works, and also proposes ideas that lead to a critical reevaluation of Alma-Tadema's paintings. Graced with a generous number of stunning color images, this highly recommended book is certain to delight - and enlighten - fans of Victorian art.
Christopher Wood's elegant and informative book features a comprehensive "who's who" of Victorian artists, from Pre-Raphaelite masters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, to what Wood terms the Olympian Dreamers - including Lawrence Alma-Tadema, G.F. Watts, and Albert Moore.