The watercolor painting A Votive Offering (The Last Roses) by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema demonstrates the artist's ability to convey a lyrical interpretation of the Classical world that is both unique and compelling. Indeed, the image perfectly captures a sense of the beauty of ancient ritual.
Alma-Tadema has depicted a solemn young woman carrying an offering of roses (the 'last roses' of the watercolor's title). The profile of the woman is striking in its similarity to the rendering of female figures in Greek vase painting, which was no doubt a deliberate act on the part of the artist to evoke an image of Classical art the in the minds of sophisticated viewers.
The offering of roses is most likely destined to be placed on the square stone column on the right side of the painting. This column appears to be adorned with other offerings and is perhaps meant to represent a grave or some type of funeral monument. The restrained palette of muted colors (primarily rust, deep brown, white, and ivory) also creates a somber atmosphere that is appropriate to remembrance and mourning.
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. And the stunning images of paintings make this book a true treasure. Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates Victorian art.