Simeon Solomon

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Simeon Solomon
Wynfield, David Wilkie (1837-1887), Simeon Solomon.jpg
Simeon Solomon in Oriental costume, a photograph by David Wilkie Wynfield
Born9 October 1840
England
Died14 August 1905 (aged 64)
NationalityEnglish
EducationCarey's Art Academy (1852); Royal Academy, London
Known forPainter
Movement Orientalist

Simeon Solomon (9 October 1840 – 14 August 1905) was an English painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelites who was noted for his depictions of Jewish life [1] and same-sex desire. [2] [3] He achieved notoriety after he was caught engaging in sexual activity with a man. [4]

Contents

Biography

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene, 1864
Watercolour on paper, Tate Britain Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene.jpg
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene, 1864
Watercolour on paper, Tate Britain

Solomon was born into a prominent Jewish family. He was the eighth and last child born to merchant Michael (Meyer) Solomon and artist Catherine (Kate) Levy. Solomon was a younger brother to fellow painters Abraham Solomon (18241862) and Rebecca Solomon (18321886).

Orthodox Judaism denomination of Judaism

Orthodox Judaism is a collective term for the traditionalist branches of contemporary Judaism. Theologically, it is chiefly defined by regarding the Torah, both Written and Oral, as literally revealed by God on Mount Sinai and faithfully transmitted ever since. Orthodox Judaism therefore advocates a strict observance of Jewish Law, or Halakha, which is to be interpreted and determined only according to traditional methods and in adherence to the continuum of received precedent through the ages. It regards the entire halakhic system as ultimately grounded in immutable revelation, essentially beyond external and historical influence. More than any theoretical issue, obeying the dietary, purity, ethical, and other laws of Halakha is the hallmark of Orthodoxy. Other key doctrines include belief in a future resurrection of the dead, divine reward and punishment for the righteous and the sinners, the Election of Israel, and an eventual restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem under the Messiah.

Michael (Meyer) Solomon was a successful Bishopsgate manufacturer, and was one of the first Jews to be admitted to the freedom of the City of London.

Abraham Solomon British artist

Abraham Solomon was an English painter.

Born and educated in London, Solomon started receiving lessons in painting from his older brother around 1850. He started attending Carey's Art Academy in 1852. His older sister first exhibited her works at the Royal Academy during the same year.

As a student at the Royal Academy Schools, Solomon was introduced through Dante Gabriel Rossetti to other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, as well as the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne and the painter Edward Burne-Jones in 1857. His first exhibition was at the Royal Academy in 1858. He continued to hold exhibitions of his work at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1872. In addition to the literary paintings favoured by the Pre-Raphaelite school, Solomon's subjects often included scenes from the Hebrew Bible and genre paintings depicting Jewish life and rituals. His association with Swinburne led to his illustrating Swinburne's Lesbia Brandon in 1865. [5]

Dante Gabriel Rossetti English poet, illustrator, painter and translator

Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, generally known as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was a British poet, illustrator, painter and translator, and a member of the Rossetti family. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Rossetti was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. His work also influenced the European Symbolists and was a major precursor of the Aesthetic movement.

Algernon Charles Swinburne English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic

Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

Edward Burne-Jones 19th-century English artist

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet was an English artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Burne-Jones was closely involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in Britain; his stained-glass include windows in St. Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, Chelsea, St Peter and St Paul parish church in Cromer, St Martin's Church in Brampton, Cumbria, St Michael's Church, Brighton, All Saints, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, St Edmund Hall and Christ Church, two colleges of the University of Oxford. His stained glass works also feature in St. Anne's Church, Brown Edge, Staffordshire Moorlands and St.Edward the Confessor church at Cheddleton Staffordshire. Burne-Jones's early paintings show the heavy inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic "voice". In 1877, he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery. These included The Beguiling of Merlin. The timing was right, and he was taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement.

In 1873 his career was cut short when he was arrested in a public urinal at Stratford Place Mews, off Oxford Street, in London and charged with attempting to commit sodomy: he was fined £100. [6] He was arrested again in 1874 in Paris, after which he was sentenced to spend three months in prison. [6] [7] [8] [9]

Sodomy anal or oral sex with people, any sex with an animal, non-procreative sex

Sodomy is generally anal or oral sex between people or sexual activity between a person and a non-human animal (bestiality), but it may also mean any non-procreative sexual activity. Originally, the term sodomy, which is derived from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Book of Genesis, was commonly restricted to anal sex. Sodomy laws in many countries criminalized the behavior. In the Western world, many of these laws have been overturned or are not routinely enforced.

After his prosecutions he no longer exhibited, but achieved a degree of celebrity amongst those who shared his sensibilities: Oscar Wilde, John Addington Symonds, Count Eric Stenbock, and Walter Pater all collected his works. [10]

Oscar Wilde Irish poet, playwright and aesthete

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for homosexuality, imprisonment, and early death at age 46.

John Addington Symonds 19th-century English poet and literary critic

John Addington Symonds was an English poet and literary critic. A cultural historian, he was known for his work on the Renaissance, as well as numerous biographies of writers and artists. Although he married and had a family, he was an early advocate of male love (homosexuality), which he believed could include pederastic as well as egalitarian relationships, referring to it as l'amour de l'impossible. He also wrote much poetry inspired by his homosexual affairs.

Eric Stenbock Estonian poet

Count Eric StanislausStenbock was a Baltic Swedish poet and writer of macabre fantastic fiction.

In 1884 he was admitted to the workhouse where he continued to produce work, but his life and talent were blighted by alcoholism. Twenty years later in 1905, he died from complications brought on by his alcoholism. He was buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Willesden.

Examples of his work are on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Wightwick Manor and at Leighton House. Retrospectives of his work have been held at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 2005–6, and in London at the Ben Uri Gallery in 2006.

Exhibitions

1906

1907

1908

1913

1923

1934

1946

1985

1964

1965

1966

1985

2001

2002

2005

2006

2008

2010

2017

In literature

In Oscar Wilde's long prison letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, De Profundis , Wilde writes of his bankruptcy: “That all my charming things were to be sold: my Burne-Jones drawings: my Whistler drawings: my Monticelli: my Simeon Solomons: my china: my Library…”

References and sources

References
  1. Cohen, Richard I.Jewish Icons: Art and Society in Modern Europe, University of California Press, 1998, p160
  2. 'Cruise, Colin, ed., Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites, London: Merrell, 2005, p9
  3. Seymour, Gayle M. Simeon Solomon and the Biblical Construction of Marginal Identity in Victorian England, Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 33, Issue 3-4, 1997
  4. "Let's Examine 150 Years of Men Cruising Public Restrooms (and Its Social Consequences)". Hornet Stories. 2017-10-25. Retrieved 2018-08-20.
  5. Peter Horne, Reina Lewis, Outlooks: lesbian and gay sexualities and visual cultures, Routledge, 1996, ISBN   0-415-12468-9, p. 70
  6. 1 2 William A. Peniston, "Pederasts and others: urban culture and sexual identity in nineteenth-century Paris", Haworth gay & lesbian studies, Routledge, 2004, ISBN   1-56023-486-5, pp. 77–78
  7. Lockard, Ray Anne (2002), "Solomon, Simeon", glbtq.com , archived from the original on 12 February 2007, retrieved 19 September 2007
  8. Michael Matthew Kaylor, "Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde", Michael Matthew Kaylor, 2006, ISBN   80-210-4126-9, p. 81
  9. Jeffrey Merrick, Bryant T. Ragan, "Homosexuality in modern France", Studies in the history of sexuality, Oxford University Press US, 1996, ISBN   0-19-509303-8, p. 134
  10. Kaylor, Michael Matthew, Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians - Hopkins, Pater and Wilde, Masaryk University, Brno: 2006, p82 Note 1
  11. "Pre-Raphaelite Painters from Collections in Lancashire | Tate". www.tate.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  12. McKenzie, Janet. "Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites, Studio International". Studio International - Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
  13. "Posthumous Exhibitions". Simeon Solomon Research Archive. Retrieved 2016-05-22.
Sources

Further reading

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