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The Roses of Heliogabalus

last month

This painting showed up in my Facebook feed...

Comments (16)

  • last month

    This is evidently a 1888 Dutch painting representing a horrible (and probably apocryphal) murder of guests at a Roman dinner/orgy by being literally smothered in flowers from a false ceiling by the current Roman Emperor. The original story did not mention roses, but the 19th century painter changed violets, etc. to roses. The Emperor was a teenager, (he did do a lot of other weird & strange things, if not this one) and was assassinated before he was 20 yrs old. Long long article on Wikipedia - I was unable to post the link.


    P.S. I am glad that even the original Roman story did not use roses!

    bellegallica9a thanked jacqueline9CA
  • last month

    What a strange picture and interesting story behind it. I was especially amused by the thought of a weekly delivery of rose petals for 4 months!

    bellegallica9a thanked Heather RR (PNW 8b)
  • 29 days ago

    I did read a little about the painting and artist. I'm having trouble believing any amount of flower petals could cause someone's death. Just how many would you have to have? And it would probably have to be an assortment since it's not likely anyone could amass enough of a single kind. Still, it's a great story and painting.

  • 29 days ago

    You are talking about a Roman Emperor. Who commands rose growers without number, rose fields without number, and therefore rose petals without number.

    bellegallica9a thanked mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY)
  • 29 days ago

    @mad_gallica (z5 Eastern NY) You have a point there!

  • 28 days ago

    That is indeed a weird picture and story. Being a painter myself, I wonder how Alma-Tadema had the patience to execute that picture.

  • 27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Alma-Tadema is one of my favorite Victorian artists (although he lived into the Edwardian era). He is everything florid, over-the-top- and romantic that I love about the art of the time. Flowers of some type are a feature of many of his works. Here's a link to his Wiki Art page.

    Here are a few paintings featuring or containing roses/flowers. You'll have to click the pictures to enlarge in the first couple of links. I forgot to do it before I copied the link.

    Summer Offering

    Ask Me No More

    When Flowers Return

    God Speed

    An Oleander

    Courtship-The Proposal


    A Coign of Vantage

    Apologies, for hijacking the thread, lol. But it's so rare that LA-T is ever mentioned these days, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to share my obsession. (I seem to be obsessed by a lot of things...figs, roses, art, music...)

  • 27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    I'll go with the hijacking. I was just cruising through Winslow Homer's paintings on WikiArt: now there's an artist who inspires my enthusiasm. Different as can be from Sir Lawrence. Similar period of activity, by the way.

    De gustibus non disputandum!

    P.S. Homer didn't do flowers, but, for that period, I can be happy that there's Fantin-Latour.

    bellegallica9a thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • 27 days ago

    Hijack away! I love it when posts go in multiple directions.

  • 25 days ago

    I mentioned Fantin-Latour. He painted many roses, and I often have difficulty in identifying their class, but these are pretty evidently Gallicas: 568d3682e3bc6df2ac5b7d35b4bd74fb.jpg (600×600) (

    bellegallica9a thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • 24 days ago

    Those look like maybe Tuscay Superbe? I like this group of Roses by Fantin-Latour

    I think my fav of the Alma-Tadema listed above might be Ask Me No More. I like the color scheme of all the blues agains the white. Also, those are some killer sandals.

  • 21 days ago
    last modified: 18 days ago

    Many years ago I used to have a print of Alma-Tadema's 'A Coign of Vantage' in the loo (toilet), propped up on the cistern, so the lovely ladies in their diaphanous classical gowns could gaze wistfully down into the watery depths below...

    I don't think it was A-T, but another of those Victorian neoclassicist/ orientalist painters, a reproduction of whose painting 'Erica' used to hang in our communal hippie share house in the early 70s. Scantily clad, she lay for no clear reason in the centre of a marble courtyard, gazing longingly up at a spurting fountain around which she was sinuously draped... we re-christened her 'Erotica', of course...

    Another Victorian artist, Henry Holiday, an associate of the Pre-Raphaelites, was responsible for the monumental 'Dante and Beatrice', recording imaginatively the moment of an encounter between the great medieval Italian poet and his never-to-be-requited love interest, on the corner of a bridge over the Arno River in Florence. My mother had a small print of it and when I stumbled on a huge, beautifully framed example in a junk shop, it was the perfect birthday gift for my flatmate... It followed her around and ended up in her bathroom, overlooking the bath, in her house by the Estuary, for all bathers' delight. I still have my late mother's old print, now much faded and battered, on my bedroom wall, here in Australia.. <3

  • 20 days ago

    @fig_insanity Z7b E TN Sending you a virtual High five. Alma-Tadema is one of my favorite painters too! As an aside curious if you are a fig enthusiast.

    Thanks so much bellegallica for posting!

  • 19 days ago

    Comtesse, I certainly would like to see the 'Erica' you mention, if you can locate it; I wasn't able to track it down.

    Ah, the pictures of our childhoods. My dad, Florida born and reared and a lifelong sailor, had a copy of one of Homer's Caribbean watercolors in his store. As a child I always liked it, but for a long time didn't know who painted it. These seemingly minor elements give shape and color to our lives.

  • 18 days ago

    Oh, Melissa, I did do a search for it, before I posted, hoping to provide a link, but I too came up empty-handed. It's a mystery...

    If/when I get around to writing to my old friend and housemate whose print it was, I will ask her if she remembers the artist's name, though I have an idea it was never stated, just the name 'Erica' on a little gold tab thingy at the bottom of the frame.... IIRC... or else the artist's name was one we'd never heard of, and so didn't remember. <3