When we see artwork reproduced in books, it’s sometimes hard to get a sense of scale, which has a big effect on the making of the art.
Here is Lawrence Alma-Tadema working at his easel in the 1890s. Tadema frequently created finished paintings that were no more than 5 inches on their short side.
Dean Cornwell, by contrast, had to be hoisted up on ropes to paint his murals for the Los Angeles Library, which he completed in 1932. His foot was bandaged, having been hurt in an accident. He had to move to England to be trained in the art of mural painting, and to find suitable mural space.
The painting he is working on was called “Earth: Gold in the Ground,” one of eight subjects on California history, each measuring 12 feet wide by 19 feet high.
The library commission paid barely enough to pay his expenses. He had to borrow money from his life insurance policy to afford his children’s college education.