Last chance to see Rossetti and Simeon Solomon in Love Revealed
Submitted to: Art 
Posted: October 17 2006

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Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites at the Ben Uri Gallery is the first major exhibition of Simeon Solomon to be seen in London since 1906. It demonstrates his re-emergence as a significant figure within the Pre-Raphaelite circle and late 19th century British art, and uncovers his powerful and original talent. Many of the works have not been on public display since the 1860s and 1870s.

Solomon was born into an observant Jewish family in the East End of London in 1840. His elder bother Abraham (1823-62) and sister Rebecca (1832-86) were enjoying some success and he showed precocious artistic talent from an early age. In 1856, aged just 15, he entered the Royal Academy schools to pursue an artistic career himself.

Solomon quickly enjoyed success with his paintings of Old Testament scenes, Jewish ritual and classical subjects and soon became a popular figure within the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists, writers and aesthetes including Burne-Jones, Rossetti and Swinburne, who enjoyed his company and admired his work. Burne-Jones was so impressed by Solomon’s draughtsmanship that he called him “the greatest artist of us all” and considered him a “rising genius”.

An active homosexual at the time when homosexuality was taboo, Solomon was considered the bad boy of the movement. And it was his homosexuality that led to his fall from grace and ruined his professional career. In February 1873, aged 32, he was arrested in a public lavatory and charged with indecent exposure and “attempting to commit sodomy”.

He was subsequently ostracised from the artistic community, the Jewish community and society as a whole and it became almost impossible for him to exhibit publicly and increasingly difficult for him to sell his work. Growing poverty, an unwillingness to depend on the charity of family and friends who were still prepared to support him and an increasing dependence on alcohol led him to a life of beggary and illness on the streets of London. The last years of his life were spent in a workhouse in London where he continued to practise as an artist, producing deeply personal drawings charged with mystical and visionary intensity. He died in the workhouse in 1905 and is buried in the Willesden Jewish cemetery.

The exhibition, organised by the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, covers Solomon’s entire career, including his later works after his arrest and disgrace in 1873. This exhibition is mounted to mark the centenary of Solomon’s death and enables the art world today, in recognition, of his work, to put him in context. Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites, is a unique opportunity to rediscover what Oscar Wilde called the “strange genius” of an extraordinary outsider.

A fully-illustrated, 192 page catalogue, £19.95, Love Revealed is the first major publication devoted to Simeon Solomon and explores his work within the context not only of Pre-Raphaelitism but also Aestheticism, Judaism and contemporary studies of masculinity. Six essays written by experts provide new insights into Solomon’s key works and the context in which they were created. Many of the reproduced paintings and drawings have rarely been seen since they were first exhibited over one hundred years ago.

The author, Colin Cruise, who co-curated this exhibition organised by the Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, is a former senior lecturer in Art History at the University of Staffordshire and is now a freelance curator and writer. He has published widely on the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement and is the Chair of the Association of Art Historians.

Open to public:

12 September to 26 November 2006

Monday to Thursday, 10am to 5.30pm

Friday, 10am to 3pm

Sunday, 10am to 4pm

Admission:

£5.00 full charge

£3.00 students, registered disabled and 60+ years

Free for children, Friends and Members of the Ben Uri Gallery

Tickets:

Tickets are available daily at the Ben Uri Gallery

To book in advance please tel: 020 7604 3991

For public information, please ring 020 7604 3991 or info@benuri.org.uk or Ben Uri Gallery, The London Jewish Museum of Art, 108a Boundary Rd, St. John’s Wood, London NW8 0RH

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