I have been immersed in preparing a lecture and suddenly summer has arrived, so this painting captures today perfectly.
94 degrees in the Shade Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
© Fitzwilliam Museum
It was painted in 1876 at Godstone in Surrey and shows Alma-Tadema's friend's son, Herbert Thompson, just before he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge. Herbert went on to become a barrister, lecturer and an eminent Egyptologist. The Fitzwilliam also has twin portraits of Herbert and his father, Sir Henry Thompson, an very eminent surgeon, painted by their friend Alma-Tadema. In 1877 he had joined father and son for a painting holiday on board their boat Gypsy, on the Thames, and painted Herbert's portrait - wearing a very fetching smoking hat (below) - on one of the houseboat doors; the following year he painted the father. Both the Thompsons were art collectors, especially of Whistler and Fantin-Latour, but here Herbert is pursuing lepidoptery (above).