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A Year: Day to Day Men: 9th of October, Solar Year 2018

Man and His Nature

October 9, 1840 was the birthdate of English painter Simeon Solomon.

Born and educated in London, Simeon Solomon, at the age of ten, received lessons in painting from his older brother Abraham Solomon, who was then a student of the Royal Academy. Simeon Solomon also became a student at the Royal Academy Schools where Dante Gabriel Rossetti introduced him to members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. Solomon’s first exhibition was at the Royal Academy in 1858 and he continued to exhibit there until 1872.

Solomon’s subjects, in addition to the literary paintings in the style of the Pre-Raphaelites, included biblical scenes from the Hebrew Bible, paintings depicting Jewish life and rituals, and paintings depicting same-sex desire. His association with radical poet Algemon Charles Swinburne led to his illustrating Swinburne’s book “Lesbia Brandon” in 1865. This novel was suppressed because it was considered pornographic in its day.

In 1873, Simeon Solomon’s career as an artist was cut short when he was arrested in a public urinal at Stratford Place Mews, off Oxford Street, in London and charged with an attempt to commit sodomy with a local workman; Solomon was fined one hundred pounds. He was arrested again in 1874 in Paris; this time he was sentenced to three months in prison. After his prosecutions, Solomon no longer exhibited his work, but achieved a degree of celebrity. Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, poet and literary critic John Addington Symonds, macabre fiction writer Eric Stenbock, and essayist and art critic Walter Peter all collected his artwork.

Simeon Solomon was admitted in 1884 to a workhouse where he received shelter and food enabling him to continue producing his artwork. Twenty years later on August 14, 1905 he died from complications brought on by his alcoholism. Solomon was buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Willesden, London Borough of Brent.

Simeon Solomon’s work are on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Wightwick Manor, and at Leighton House in the Holland Park district of London. More information on Simeon Solomon and his artwork may be found at the Simeon Solomon Research Archive: https://www.simeonsolomon.com

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