Following a small disagreement, the red-headed female has turned her back on her dark-haired beau, and he is anxiously looking her way hoping she will face him once more. This delicate painting is an oil on panel that was created in 1896. The original piece of art is owned by Fred and Sherry Ross and is housed in New Jersey, USA. Towards the end of the 19th century, when A Difference of Opinion was produced, Alma Tadema was over 60 years old and working less on his art than he had in previous years. During this period he was using a lighter palette of colours and he painted with delicate brush strokes which is evident in A Difference of Opinion.
By this time in his career, Alma Tadema had perfected his portrayal of sumptuous materials such as marble. In this painting, marble can be seen in abundance in the background and it is exquisitely recreated. Flowers were also one of the artist’s favourite subjects, and a full vine of wisteria has been worked into the backdrop with stunning effect. The bright blue skies and the pale fabric worn by the characters gives the whole painting a fresh and gentle feeling. The eyes, lips and hair of each character have been finely painted in a neo-classical style. Even though the subject of this work features a lovers’ tiff, there is a gentle quietness about the painting.
Alma Tadema enjoyed painting moments between two characters and he successfully captures the atmosphere and the emotions of a scene. No matter what theme of the painting, Alma Tadema featured beautiful people in luxurious settings. This is true of A difference of Opinion but the difference here is that the young man is clearly troubled by the rift. His anxiety and unhappiness can instantly be seen in his face. This artwork can be compared to An Eloquent Silence also by Alma Tadema painted a few years earlier. In this piece, another couple can be seen sitting together but no conversation, interest or feelings exist between them. In this scene, the polite boredom has been captured perfectly in the characters’’ body language and facial expressions.