«BY AILEEN ELIZABETH NAYLOR A thesis submitted to The University of Birmingham for the degree of MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY Department of History of Art ...»
SIMEON SOLOMON’S WORK BEFORE 1873: INTERPRETATION AND IDENTITY
AILEEN ELIZABETH NAYLOR
A thesis submitted to
The University of Birmingham
for the degree of
MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY
Department of History of Art
School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music
The University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham Research Archive
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ABSTRACTThis thesis has two aims. The first is to demonstrate that commentaries on the work produced by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) before 1873, an artist who was Jewish and homosexual, have been dominated by critics’ perceptions of him as a marginal figure.
Solomon’s Jewish heritage and homosexuality doubly marginalised him in the Christian, heterosexual culture of Victorian England so it is understandable that commentators have focused on his minority position and read signs of difference in his works. However, my second aim is to challenge this perspective. I will show how much Solomon’s art had in common with that of his contemporaries and broaden the discussion by analysing paintings which have been given less critical attention, possibly because they do not present so many opportunities to refer to the artist’s marginality. I will suggest alternative interpretations of specific paintings which draw upon other aspects of nineteenth-century English society in order to show how explanations which focus primarily on Solomon’s marginalised identities are not the only and, in some cases, not the most useful ways to read his work.
For my Mum (1928-2001)
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSFirst and foremost I wish to thank Dr. Tricia Cusack for her encouragement, patience and invaluable help in the formation of this manuscript. I am grateful to the staff at all the libraries, universities, museums and art galleries which I have visited especially Tina Keevil, Nick Cull and David Pulford at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Victoria Osborne, curator with Dr. Colin Cruise of the exhibition, Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites (2005), has been generous in sharing her knowledge. I am also grateful to Tessa Sidey, Curator of Prints and Drawings, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, for the opportunity to contribute to the cataloguing of Solomon’s works there which helped my research. I am grateful to Simeon Solomon experts, Simon Reynolds, Professor Gayle Seymour and Dr. Colin Cruise, and Pam Solomon, a descendant of the family, who have been most kind in answering my queries. I wish to thank my fellow Solomon researchers, Roberto C. Ferrari, webmaster of the Simeon Solomon Research Archive, Carolyn Conroy and Donato Esposito, for formal papers and informal discussions.
My membership of the Pre-Raphaelite Society inspired me to begin this project and continues to add to my knowledge and appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers for which I wish to thank the committee and my fellow members. This thesis would not have been completed without the encouragement and support of my lecturers and friends at Birmingham University: Dr. Richard Clay, Dr. Fran Berry, Connie Wan, Sara Ayres, Ann-Marie Wilson, Marie Considine, Laura MacCulloch, John Lovesey, Joerg Niehoegen, Dr. Amelia Yeates, Maria Daniel and Dr. Elisa Korb.
Last, but by no means least, I thank my family - Peter, Alice and Philip - for their loving
Figure 1: Simeon Solomon (1840-1905), The Mother of Moses, 1860, Oil on canvas, 56.6 x 48.2 cm, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, U.S.A.
Figure 2: Simeon Solomon, A Deacon, 1863, Oil on canvas, 35 x 25.4 cm, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.
Figure 3: Simeon Solomon, Two Acolytes, Censing, Pentecost, 1863, Watercolour on paper, 40.2 x 35 cm, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Figure 4: Simeon Solomon, The Mystery of Faith, 1870, Watercolour on paper, 50.8 x 38 cm, National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery.
Figure 5: Simeon Solomon, Poetry, 1864, Watercolour on paper, 39.3 x 32.1 cm, Grosvenor Museum, Chester City Council.
Figure 6: Simeon Solomon, Reading, 1865, Medium unknown, 45.5 x 35.5 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 7: Simeon Solomon, Lady in a Chinese Dress, 1865, Watercolour on paper, 41 x
35.5 cm, Grosvenor Museum, Chester City Council.
Figure 8: Simeon Solomon, The Japanese Fan, 1865, Watercolour, 34 x 25.5 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 9: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), The Prioress’s Tale, c.1865-98, Watercolour with bodycolour on paper laid down on linen, 103.4 x 62.8 cm, Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, U.S.A.
Figure 10: Simeon Solomon, A Young Musician Employed in the Temple Service During the Feast of Tabernacles, 1861, Oil on canvas, 59.7 x 45.7 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 11: Simeon Solomon, The Child Jeremiah, 1862, Oil on canvas, 35 x 24 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 12: Simeon Solomon, Pharaoh’s daughter and the Infant Moses, Undated, from a sketchbook c.1854-55, Pen and ink over pencil on paper, 17 x 7.5 cm, The Jewish Museum, London.
Figure 13: Simeon Solomon, The Finding of Moses, 1862, Oil on canvas, 81.3 x 61 cm, Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane.
i Figure 14: David Wilkie Wynfield (1837-1887), Photograph of Simeon Solomon in Turban and Eastern Dress, c.1860s, Albumen print on mount with textured paper surface layer, 20 x 15 cm, Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Figure 15: Charles Lock Eastlake (1793-1865), Hagar and Ishmael, 1843, Oil on canvas, 76 x 96.5 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 16: Henry Nelson O’Neil (1817-1880), Esther, 1850, Oil on canvas, 102.5 x 76 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 17: Frederick Richard Pickersgill (1820-1900), Samson Betrayed, 1850, Oil on canvas, 243.8 x 306 cm, Manchester City Galleries.
Figure 18: William Dyce (1806-1864), Joash shooting the Arrow of Deliverance, 1844, Oil on canvas, 76.3 x 109.5 cm, Kunsthalle, Hamburg.
Figure 19: William Dyce, The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel, 1850, Oil on canvas, 36 x 46 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 20: John Everett Millais (1829-1896), The Return of the Dove to the Ark, 1851, Oil on canvas, 88.2 x 54.9 cm, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Figure 21: William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), The Scapegoat, 1854, Oil on canvas, 87 x
139.8 cm, National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery.
Figure 22: Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet, 1851-56, Oil on canvas, 117 x 133.3 cm, Tate Britain, London.
Figure 23: John Everett Millais, Christ in the House of His Parents, 1849-50, Oil on canvas, 86.4 x 139.7 cm, Tate Britain, London.
Figure 24: William Holman Hunt, The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, 1854-55, Oil on canvas, 85.7 x 141 cm, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery.
Figure 25: Unknown engraver after Simeon Solomon, Lighting the Lamps, Eve of the Sabbath, Wood engraving, published in Once a Week 9 August 1862.
Figure 26: Butterworth and Heath after Simeon Solomon, The Passover, Wood engraving, published in The Leisure Hour 1866.
Figure 27: Simeon Solomon, Study for Head of Jochebed, 7 November 1859, Graphite on paper, 14.7 x 13.4 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Figure 28: Simeon Solomon, Study for Head of Miriam, 8 November 1859, Graphite on paper, 14.9 x 13.1 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Figure 30: Frederick Sandys, Study of a Woman’s Head, c.1859, Chalks on buff paper, 23 x 17.7 cm, British Museum, London.
Figure 31: Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), Head of a Woman, c.1865, Pencil with black chalk, 46.7 x 31.4 cm, David Hughes Collection.
Figure 32: Albert Moore (1841-1893), The Mother of Sisera Looked out at a Window, 1861, Oil on canvas, 30.4 x 23.5 cm, Tullie House, Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle.
Figure 33: Joanna Boyce Wells (1831-1861), Head of a Mulatto Woman, 1861, Oil on paper laid on linen, 17.1 x 13.7 cm, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund, U.S.A.
Figure 34: Simeon Solomon, Study of a Woman’s Head, 11 November 1859, Graphite on paper, 13.3 x 14.4 cm, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Figure 35: Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, Titian, (d.1576), The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John and a Female Saint or Donor (‘The Aldobrandini Madonna’), c.1532, Oil on canvas, 100.6 x 142.2 cm, The National Gallery, London.
Figure 36: Antonio Allegri, Correggio, (d.1534), The Madonna of the Basket, c.1524, Oil on wood, 33.7 x 25.1 cm, The National Gallery, London.
Figure 37: Dalziel Brothers after Simeon Solomon, The Infant Moses, Wood engraving, published in Dalziels’ Bible Gallery 1881.
Figure 38: Dalziel Brothers after William Holman Hunt, Eliezer and Rebekah at the Well, Wood engraving, published in Dalziels’ Bible Gallery 1881.
Figure 39: Dalziel Brothers after Ford Madox Brown, Joseph’s Coat, Wood engraving, published in Dalziels’ Bible Gallery 1881.
Figure 40: Dalziel Brothers after Ford Madox Brown, Elijah and the Widow’s Son, Wood engraving, published in Dalziels’ Bible Gallery 1881.
Figure 41: Dalziel Brothers after Edward John Poynter (1836-1919), Joseph before Pharaoh, Wood engraving, published in Dalziels’ Bible Gallery 1881.
Figure 42: Simeon Solomon, Love in Autumn, 1866, Oil on canvas, 84 x 66 cm, Private Collection.
Figure 44: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Bocca Baciata, 1859, Oil on wood, 32.1 x 27 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, U.S.A.
Figure 45: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blue Bower, 1865, Oil on canvas, 84 x 70.9 cm, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, The University of Birmingham.
Figure 46: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Monna Vanna, 1866, Oil on canvas, 88.9 x 86.4 cm, Tate Britain, London.
Figure 47: James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Purple and Rose: Lange Leizen of the Six Marks, 1864, Oil on canvas, 93.3 x 61.3 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, U.S.A.
Figure 48: Simeon Solomon, Habet!, 1865, Oil on canvas, 101.5 x 122 cm, Private Collection (on loan to Bradford Museums, Galleries and Heritage).
Figure 49: William Holman Hunt, The Awakening Conscience, 1853, Oil on canvas, 76.2 x 55.9 cm, Tate Britain, London.
Figure 50: William Holman Hunt, The Children’s Holiday, 1865, Oil on canvas, 214 x 147 cm, Torre Abbey Collection, Torbay.
Figure 51: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl, 1862, Oil on canvas, 213 x 107.9 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
Figure 52: John R. Parsons (photographer, active 1860s), Jane Morris, posed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1865, Albumen print from wet collodian-on-glass negative, 15.7 x 22 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Figure 53: Rebecca Solomon (1832-1886), The Wounded Dove, 1866, Watercolour on thick paper, 45.5 x 35.5 cm, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Introduction and literature review In this thesis, I will claim that the work produced by the Victorian artist, Simeon Solomon, before 1873 has been interpreted by critics predominantly in terms of his Jewishness and homosexuality and, to counterbalance this perspective, I will suggest alternative readings of a number of his paintings from this period. Having trained at Cary’s Academy and the Royal Academy Schools, Solomon became part of the PreRaphaelite circle1 of writers and artists and contributed to projects involving other PreRaphaelites in the late 1850s and early 1860s.2 By the mid-1860s he was exploring the emerging Aesthetic ideas in his art and exhibiting regularly at the avant-garde Dudley Gallery, London, while maintaining his presence at the Royal Academy.3 Indeed, this decade was the most successful period of Solomon’s artistic career. On 11th February 1873 Solomon was arrested for indecent exposure and attempting to commit sodomy4 Solomon became a member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle through his older brother and sister, Abraham (1823-62) and Rebecca (1832-86), both artists themselves although not Pre-Raphaelites, and through an introduction to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) by the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor, Alexander Munro (1825-71). Rebecca was John Everett Millais’ (1829-96) studio assistant and Abraham, by the late 1850s at the peak of his career, knew most of the major artists in London: Mr. Holman Hunt to Solomon (Simeon or Abraham), undated letter, National Art Library, London; Simon Reynolds, The Vision of Simeon Solomon, Stroud, Glos., 1984, 7, 3; Gayle Marie Seymour, ‘The Life and Work of Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)’, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of California, 1986, 28.
Dalziels’ Bible Gallery (Solomon’s designs were executed in the 1860s, but the volume was not published until 1881); William Burges’ ‘Great Bookcase’ (1859-62); stained-glass window designs for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. (1864).
Algernon Graves F.S.A., The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, Vol. 7, London, 1906, 208; Algernon Graves F.S.A., A Dictionary of Artists who have exhibited works in the Principal London Exhibitions From 1760 to 1893, London and Birmingham, 1901; Reynolds, Vision of Simeon Solomon, 176.