Dr. Roberto C. Ferrari
Roberto C. Ferrari
I am the original creator of the Simeon Solomon Research Archive. I hold a Ph.D. in Art History from the CUNY Graduate Center, where I specialized in European and American art 1750-1900, with a focus on nineteenth-century British painting and sculpture. I also hold an M.L.S. degree and currently am employed by Columbia University as the Curator of Art Properties in the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library. I have presented conference papers on Solomon at College Art Association, Modern Language Association, and Southern British Studies meetings, as well as at Carolyn Conroy's 'Solomon Symposium', and have published articles on Solomon in journals such as Notes and Queries and Ravenna. My ongoing Solomon work includes researching the extant correspondence of Simeon and his siblings. I also blog at bklynbiblio.
When I was in graduate school working on my Master of Liberal Arts degree and conducting research on Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne, I became intrigued by the story of Simeon Solomon, specifically his artistic promise and his proverbial fall from grace. I immediately started delving more into Solomon, and discovered that very little had been written on him in recent years. This was the impetus for me to start researching Solomon myself, and I started to obtain every bit of information on him I could find. This gradually lead to the creation of an annotated bibliography for which I received great encouragement from my mentors (Dr. Daniel Rutenberg and Dr. Nancy Tyson) in Victorian studies at the University of South Florida. Seven years of research later eventually lead to the publication of my research in The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, and the following year the first version of this website.
I am still fascinated by Solomon and his work. As an individual, I see Solomon as a man who found it difficult to deal with his homosexuality as a youth, but his interaction with the more sexually liberated Pre-Raphaelites such as Swinburne, Rossetti, and Burne-Jones eventually allowed him to blossom both artistically and personally. The strictures of a society which did not understand him eventually turned on him when he was caught in a sexually-based offense. Thereafter, Solomon decided to forego social acceptance in favor of living his life his own way, and despite being never fully appreciated again during his lifetime, he still managed to be prolific and continue to live his lifestyle as he saw fit. His artwork itself is admirable. His early Judaic illustrations and paintings are beautiful renditions that reflect the early years of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, but his later works of the 1860s through the 1880s demonstrate Solomon's importance to the Aesthetic and Symbolist movements. He developed his own symbolic language in the form of angelic youths whose androgyny was key to their own innate beauty. Despite most poor commentary on the excessive emotions of his prose poem A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, I find the work expressive of symbolism that reflects the works of poets such as Arthur Rimbaud who spoke their true emotional feelings best when using symbols.
It is my hope that with the publication of this web site more individuals can learn to appreciate and respect Solomon, and perhaps more research can be conducted on this figure who still eludes art historians and Victorian scholars unsure of where he fits in the milieu of his time.
Dr. Carolyn Conroy
I became involved in the Simeon Solomon Research Archive in February 2010, when I redesigned the site in collaboration with Roberto Ferrari. I am now the primary editor. I began researching Solomon's post-1873 life in 2004 at the University of York, England. My Master's dissertation focused on an examination of Solomon's arrest documents in both London and Paris, and I received a York Society Trust grant to pursue this research at the Archives de Paris and the Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris. In 2005 I received an Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Grant to pursue my Ph.D. research on Solomon at the University of York which I completed in 2009. The title of my thesis is: '"He hath Mingled with the Ungodly": the Life of Simeon Solomon after 1873 with a Survey of the Extant Work'. My thesis explores, in two volumes, Solomon's life after his arrest for attempted sodomy in 1873, and makes a new evaluation of the artist's life and artistic output, using newly discovered visual and textual archival sources.
I previously taught on the History of Art, Masters degree programme at the University of York, and was formerly the Department's Partnerships Administrator. In addition, I recently worked as a Research Consultant for Yale University. Currently I am working independently as a writer and researcher and am writing a biography of Simeon Solomon's life. My other academic interests include nineteenth-century British painting, particularly the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movements; Victorian photography and the work of Frederick Hollyer, and more generally the history of homosexuality; social history of Victorian London, particularly workhouses, asylums, social philanthropy and 'slumming'.
30th June 2014: Association of Art Historians: 'Art History in the Pub' Title Sins of the City, Simeon Solomon in Victorian London: 7.30pm at The Monarch, Camden.