In the 1990s, Solomon has become more important and recognized as a major force in the Pre-Raphaelite, Aesthetic, and Symbolist art movements. The identification of Solomon as a gay cultural icon before Oscar Wilde is on the rise. More scholars are recognizing that Solomon's homosexuality probably was known among his friends, but that it was the scandal of his arrest and public acknowledgement of his sexuality that led to his proverbial downfall. There is also a revitalized interest in Judaic Studies in many of these citations.
Bartlett, Neil. A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep (Part 3). Gay Plays: Volume Four. Ed. Michael Wilcox. London: Methuen, 1990, 81-112.
ANNOTATION: Neil Bartlett, known for his outlandish and experimental gay-themed stage productions, bases this play directly on Solomon's prose-poem and letters for dialogue, and on Solomon's artwork for stage production. Solomon is presented as a gay martyr, resulting in an intriguing interplay of his own words with modern criticism and analysis. The play being largely improvisational, this text is transcribed from a performance given at Drill Hall, London, during its 1989-1990 run, but it is only the third part of a multi-part saga that began in 1987. The three-part play received mixed reviews (see Morgan 1987 and Eyres 1990).
Dellamora, Richard. Masculine Desire: The Sexual Politics of Victorian Aestheticism. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1990, 276 pp.
ANNOTATION: This cultural theory study focuses on homosocial desire in Victorian Aestheticism, with attention to Solomon's images of Dionysus, Pater's responses, and their cultural ramifications. Solomon's reclusive nature after 1873 derives less from being a victim of homophobia than by his choice of living segregated from the world in typical "art for art's sake" fashion. Included are illustrations of Bacchus, Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytelene, and Let Not Thine Eyes See Aught Evil Itself, But Be Its Shadow upon Life Enough for Thee.
Eyres, Harry. "A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, Drill Hall." The Times, 6 February 1990: 16b.
ANNOTATION: Bartlett's use of Solomon's work gives no credit to the idea of Solomon as a homosexual martyr nearly a century after his death. Bartlett's transliteration lacks cohesion, but the contributions of other performers in the play are noteworthy.
Collins, Jeffrey Laird. "Prototype, Posing, and Preference in the Illustrations of Frederick Sandys and Simeon Solomon." Pocket Cathedrals: Pre-Raphaelite Book Illustration. Ed. Susan Casteras. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1991, 79-91, 110.
ANNOTATION: Written in collaboration with an exhibition on Pre-Raphaelite book illustration held at Yale, this is an excellent study of Solomon's work, going beyond traditional art history to include cultural theories such as those by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick to convey a new interpretation of Solomon. Solomon's work reveals his Jewishness, his homosexuality, and his aloofness. Reproductions include The Haunted House, The Veiled Bride, and Hosannah. Page 110 lists all of Solomon's illustrations included in the exhibit.
Mancoff, Debra N. "As Others Saw Him: A Self-Portrait by Simeon Solomon." Museum Studies 18:2 (1992): 146-55, 187-188.
ANNOTATION: The Art Institute of Chicago owns an 1860 drawing that is considered to be a self-portrait based on writing on the back of the drawing. However, this has been disputed by various Solomon scholars, and it is not believed to be a self-portrait. Mancoff's article takes the position that this drawing is a self-portrait and notes how it differs from many of Solomon's other self-portraits. First, the posing of the face reveals not a mirror portrait but one seen from another's perspective. Second, the sketch is less a photographic representation of Solomon and more a Victorian caricature of "the Jew." Mancoff extends her intuitive argument to show how this self-portrait is replicated in many of his Jewish characters, thus enabling Victorian audiences to identify "the Jew" in his early Hebrew works. She includes illustrations of seven of Solomon's works, plus his photo at age thirty.
§ Aldrich, Robert. The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy. London: Routledge, 1993, 142-143, 246.
ANNOTATION: Aldrich discusses Solomon among other late nineteenth-century homosexual men who were drawn to the Mediterranean because of its more liberating society and ancient classical connections.
Palmer, Geoffrey. Foreword to A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep by Simeon Solomon 1871. Harleston, Norfolk: Hermitage Books, 1993, i-iii.
ANNOTATION: For this reprint in a limited edition of 50 copies, Palmer includes a brief biographical and sometimes inaccurate sketch of Solomon's homosexual lifestyle. Includes an illustration of Love Talking to Boys and excerpts from Symonds's 1871 review of the prose-poem.
§ Sherry, Margaret M. "Swinburne at Princeton." Journal of the Rutgers University Libraries 45:2 (1993): 30-44.
ANNOTATION: Sherry writes on the treasures found in the Janet Camp Troxell Collection of Rossetti Manuscripts in the Manuscripts Division of Princeton University Library's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. She focuses primarily on works by Swinburne, but more specifically his relationships with Christina Rossetti and Solomon. Four of the illustrations Solomon did for Swinburne's novel Lesbia Brandon are discussed, with two of them reproduced in the article. Sherry also discusses Solomon's drawing of Sappho's head (also reproduced) as a possible portrait of Christina Rossetti, calling to mind the camaraderie that Solomon had with the greater Rossetti-Swinburne circle.
ANNOTATION: The exhibition of watercolours from the Victoria and Albert Museum includes Solomon's Isaac and Rebecca from 1863. Included with an illustration of the painting is a detailed catalog entry. The author notes this work as one of the last from Solomon's first period as an Hebraic-subject artist. He also interprets the subject based on scenes described in Genesis.
§ Schwab, Walter and Julia Weiner. Jewish Artists: The Ben Uri Collection. London: Ben Uri Art Society, 1994, Plate VIII, 97-99.
ANNOTATION: This catalog highlights the collection of Jewish art and/or Jewish artists in the Ben Uri Art Society. The catalog includes a brief biographical sketch and catalog information on 13 of Solomon's works. Reproductions of Night Looking Upon Sleep Her Beloved Child, Hope, and Renewal of Vows on the Scroll of the Law are included.
Kleeblatt, Norman. "Jewish Stereotypes and Christian Prototype: The Pre-Raphaelite and Early Renaissance Sources for Simeon Solomon’s Hebrew Pictures." Pre-Raphaelite Art in Its European Context. Eds. Susan P. Casteras and Alicia Craig Faxon. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1995, 117-30.
ANNOTATION: Following the lead of Seymour (1986) on the Hebrew quality of Solomon's early works, Kleeblatt makes a convincing argument that Solomon's Hebraic subjects were inspired by the early Christian Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the sudden British interest in the quattrocentro art of Botticelli, Masaccio, and others. Solomon borrowed the layout and design from many of these works, but provided Old Testament characters and characteristics that made them less Christian and more Jewish, thus creating a style never before seen by Victorian critics. Includes illustrations of nine Jewish-themed works, including two (By the Waters of Baylon and Isaac Offered) whose current locations are unknown.
§ Wildman, Stephen. Visions of Love and Life: Pre-Raphaelite Art from the Birmingham Collection, England. Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 1995, 45-48, 185-187, 258-259, 274-275, 320-321, 345, et al.
ANNOTATION: This magnificent catalog of works from one of the largest Pre-Raphaelite museum collections does justice to some of Solomon's most famous works, most notably his 1867 oil on wood painting Bacchus. In addition to this work, Wildman also writes on three of Solomon's other works: the drawings Babylon hath been a golden cup and Night and Sleep, and the watercolor Dawn. All four works are reproduced in full color, with the two paintings in their original frames. The narrative entries are informative, and make reference to other works by Solomon which are also reproduced. There is a brief biographical entry on him at the end. He also is discussed as an important contributor to the burgeoning aesthetic phase of the movement by John Christian in his essay "'The souls of earnest men laid open': Pre-Raphaelitism in England, 1848-1898." ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to Stephen Wildman for bringing this citation to our attention.
Cruise, Colin. "'Lovely devils': Simeon Solomon and Pre-Raphaelite Masculinity." Re-Framing the Pre-Raphaelites: Historical and Theoretical Essays. Aldershot, England: Scolar Press, 1996, 195-210.
ANNOTATION: Solomon's male figures in the form of Bacchus and others, androgynous or not, reflect an alternate aesthetic to the languorous fatal women of Rossetti and Burne-Jones. Furthermore, Solomon's male figures represent a passive form of masculinity, existing for their own beauty, rather than for their traditionally heroic, active, Christ-like masculinity. Cruise discusses in detail Pater's writings on aspects of masculinity and demonstrates how Solomon's male figures exemplify these beliefs. Includes illustrations of Bacchus and Carrying the Scrolls of the Law.
Goldman, Paul. Victorian Illustration: The Pre-Raphaelites, the Idyllic School and the High Victorians. Aldershot, England: Scolar Press, 1996, 56-57, 89-92, 311.
ANNOTATION: Of the illustrators whose works were published in book or serial form during the high Victorian period, Solomon is among the best. His Jewish-themed subjects are praised for their intense spirituality. Goldman agrees with some critics that Solomon's later works are poor in comparison. Includes seven illustrations and a list of books and magazines that Solomon did during his lifetime, but it is less comprehensive than the bibliography in the Geffrye Museum catalogue (1985).
Lambourne, Lionel. The Aesthetic Movement. London: Phaidon Press, 1996, 240 pp.
ANNOTATION: Noteworthy is the inclusion of colour reproductions of two stained glass windows designed by Solomon for Morris & Co. in the mid-1860s at Middleton Cheney Church, Banbury. There are other reproductions and more discussion of Solomon throughout the text, but Lambourne's general focus is on Aestheticism as a wide-ranged movement.
§ Liversidge, Michael and Catharine Edwards. Imagining Rome: British Artists and Rome in the Nineteenth Century. London: Merrell Holberton, 1996, 64-65, 128-130.
ANNOTATION: The theme of this exhibition was the artistic portrayal of ancient Rome by nineteenth-century British artists. Elizabeth Prettejohn discusses Solomon's Habet! in the essay "Recreating Rome in Victorian Painting: From History to Genre." She addresses the notion that the Victorians transformed Roman-themed paintings from historical scenes to specific genre scenes because of the transformation of historiography and classical scholarship beyond the political. She dates this transformation to 1865 when six Roman genre subjects (including Solomon's) appeared at the Royal Academy. Prettejohn also wrote the catalogue entries for the section entitled "Recreating Rome." Most noteworthy about this exhibition was the inclusion of the painting Habet!, whose location was unknown up until this time. The painting is in a private collection and on loan to the Bradford Art Galleries and Museums, West Yorkshire. It was included in this exhibition, and is reproduced in the catalogue, thus giving this catalogue credit for the first color reproduction of Habet!. Prettejohn notes that this work and Edward John Poynter's Faithful unto death were "pioneers of the new category of Roman genre painting" when exhibited at the Royal Academy. She discusses the emotions of the women as they cheer or swoon the fallen gladiator, and notes the underlying sexual sadism that Swinburne and others might have appreciated.
§ Macleod, Dianne Sachko. Art and the Victorian Middle Class: Money and the Making of Cultural Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Morgan, Thaïs E. "Perverse Male Bodies: Simeon Solomon and Algernon Charles Swinburne." Outlooks: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities and Visual Cultures. Eds. Peter Horne and Reina Lewis. London: Routledge, 1996, 61-85.
ANNOTATION: Focusing on Swinburne's appeal for Baudelairean perversity, Morgan redresses Swinburne's and Solomon's love of male homosociality in their art and lifestyle as a product of the "all-male monocultures" that surrounded them in the 1860s. Her culturally-based argument is an intricate analysis of Solomon's homoerotic inspirations and artwork. She assumes that his circle knew he was a homosexual, and she questions the usual notion that Swinburne corrupted him. The two shared equally in a love for the perverse, and in numerous instances their creative relationship was stronger than that between Swinburne and Rossetti. Includes five illustrations of his art.
§ Peniston, William. "Love and Death in Gay Paris: Homosexuality and Criminality in the 1870s." Homosexuality in Modern France. Ed. Jeffrey Merrick and Bryant T. Ragan, Jr. New York: Oxford UP, 1996, 128-145.
ANNOTATION: Peniston recounts the true story of two Parisian men who were lovers, Journeux and Mourgues, following the death of the latter. His essay gives intriguing insight into the world of nineteenth-century French homosexuality and its concurrent contrast with English homosexuality. For instance, in France homosexual sex was a crime against social order, unlike in England where homosexual sex was a criminal act unto itself. As a result, punishments in France were lighter. Peniston shows that, as a result, more male-male couples existed socially and that researchers today find it difficult to separate same-sex couples from male prostitutes because they were all treated the same when arrested. Peniston's essay is included here because he is the first to cite Solomon as having been arrested for homosexual acts in Paris. Solomon is described as a thirty-four-year-old English artist residing at the Hotel de Paris in the rue du Dauphin. In an email sent to me by Peniston on February 1, 2001, "Solomon was arrested on March 4, 1874....He was arrested at 8:30 at night in a urinal near the Bourse with Henri Lefranc, the alias of Raphael-Maximillien Dumont, a 19-year-old native-born Parisian wine clerk. The 7th Chamber of the Criminal Court of the 1st Instance sentenced them on April 18, 1874 to 3 mouths (sic) in prison and 16 francs in fine for Solomon and 6 mouths in prison and 16 francs in fine for Lefranc/Dumont." This information comes from the police ledger "Pederasts et diverse," BB6, Archives de la Prefecture de la Police, Paris, France. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Thanks to William Peniston for bringing this important information and citation to our attention.
§ Smith, Alison. The Victorian Nude: Sexuality, Morality and Art. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996, 141-142, 198.
ANNOTATION: Smith discusses Solomon with Burne-Jones in this discussion of public art exhibitions of the male nude. Both artists were criticized for creating "effete introspective male types": Burne-Jones's was based on internal feminization, Solomon's on his homosexuality. The male nudes of both men epitomize the critics' concern that male nudes should be masculine, whereas Burne-Jones and Solomon favored languourous men. Smith also discusses male models, namely Gaetano Meo who was discovered by Solomon "playing a harp in the street." Smith errs in her statement that Solomon's prose-poem was dedicated to Burne-Jones.
Vanita, Ruth. Sappho and the Virgin Mary: Same-Sex Love and the English Literary Imagination. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, 289 pp.
ANNOTATION: In an intriguing twist, Vanita analyzes Sapphic and Marian imagery that conveys a lesbian voice in the works of Solomon, Pater, Wilde, and others. Her focus is on the equal representation of male-male and female-female relationships seen in Solomon's paintings and A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, hence generating a homosexual persona. She compares his paintings and drawings to Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna and St. Anne, and his prose-poem to Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. Righteousness and Peace Have Kissed Each Other is illustrated, though she discusses many more of his artworks.
§ Conner, Randy P., et al. "Solomon, Simeon." Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol, and Spirit. London: Cassell, 1997, 308-309.
ANNOTATION: This book is an encyclopedic resource of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender imagery and lore found around the world. Solomon is discussed as a queer icon, his work and life crossing various aspects of homosexuality. Some of the biographical details are incorrect (e.g. the date of his arrest) and some are apocryphal without a named source (e.g. "In 1868, Solomon and Oscar Browning, an Eton schoolmaster, became lovers; this was to be the happiest period of Solomon's life.").
Seymour, Gayle M. "Simeon Solomon and the Biblical Construction of Marginal Identity in Victorian England." Journal of Homosexuality 33 (June-July 1997): 97-119.
ANNOTATION: Drawing on the theoretical gay development model of Kenneth Plummer and Richard R. Troiden, as well as the queer theory of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Seymour explores Solomon's homosexual development in the 1850s. Six of his early Biblical works with the subjects of David, Jonathon, Saul, and Esther reveal his adolescent homosexual awareness and his dependence on the Bible to explain to himself these burgeoning tendencies. REPRINTED: In Reclaiming the Sacred: The Bible in Gay and Lesbian Culture, Ed. Raymond-Jean Frontain, New York: Haworth, 1997.
Wilton, Andrew and Robert Upstone, eds. The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Watts: Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910. London: Tate Gallery Publishing, Ltd., 1997, 42-43, 111-13, 140-142, 236-237.
ANNOTATION: Intended to show that Symbolism was not only a continental European movement, this exhibition includes four of Solomon's works: Love in Autumn; Heliogabalus, High Priest of the Sun; The Sleepers, and the One that Watcheth; and The Head of Medusa. Wilton and Upstone focus on what they perceive to be his deviant lifestyle and in turn these four works are seen from their interpretations of symbols associated with his homosexuality.
§ Cohen, Richard I. Jewish Icons: Art and Society in Modern Europe. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998, 160-163.
ANNOTATION: Cohen discusses Solomon with Moritz Oppenheim as the first nineteenth-century Jewish artists to treat Jewish life directly in their art. He sees Solomon's Jewish-themed works as melancholy, reflecting a dying Judaic culture in Victorian England. Includes a reproduction of The Circumcision from the Leisure Hour.
Cruise, Colin. "Simeon Solomon: A Drama of Desire." The Jewish Quarterly 45 (Fall 1998): 62-67.
ANNOTATION: Rossetti's strong influence on Solomon is especially evident in the "face-as-symbol" aspect for which both are famous. Solomon's androgynous figures, however, reveal homosexual desire. Through the merging of Judaic imagery with sensuality, he creates a symbolic homosexual language that is his own and would influence the Symbolists on the continent. Includes three illustrations.
Kolsteren, Steven. "Simeon Solomon and Dalziel’s Bible Gallery." skolsteren. Internet. Published 7 January 1998. Accessed 18 March 1999. No longer available online.
ANNOTATION: Kolsteren presents the first detailed study of the working relationship of Solomon with the Dalziel Brothers for their Bible. Intended to include about 17 illustrations, currently only a few are available on the site. The web page also includes research Kolsteren is conducting entitled Goethe's Theory of Colours and the Pre-Raphaelites.
Prettejohn, Elizabeth. Rossetti and His Circle. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1998, 80 pp.
ANNOTATION: This cultural study of the Pre-Raphaelites focuses on issues of gender and sexuality. Her interpretation of Heliogabalus is intriguing, seeing the androgynous Roman emperor as Solomon's response to Rossetti's merging of body's beauty and soul's beauty, allegorical concepts depicted respectively in Lady Lilith and Sibylla Palmifera. Includes reproductions of Heliogabalus, The Toilette of a Roman Lady, Bacchus, and Love in Autumn.
§ Davis, Whitney. "The Image in the Middle: John Addington Symonds and Homoerotic Art Criticism." After the Pre-Raphaelites: Art and Aestheticism in Victorian England. Ed. Elizabeth Prettejohn. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press; New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1999, 188-216.
ANNOTATION: This collection of essays focuses on issues related to the Aesthetic/Art for Art's Sake Movement. Davis's essay focuses on how Symonds attempted to find the idealized state of homoeroticism in his own poetry and criticism by drawing on the visual images first of Edward Clifford and then Simeon Solomon. For Symonds, Clifford's works represented a moralistic homoeroticism, while Solomon's works represented a langourous homoeroticism. His ultimate idealization was somewhere in the middle of the two. Although he had a closer relationship with Clifford, Symonds found more in common with Solomon. Symonds could identify much of Solomon's mythology and symbolism, ultimately culminating in the positive review he wrote of Solomon's prose-poem in 1871. Davis also notes that the homoeroticism of Solomon's later works of the 1860s were apparent to those who were homosexual and, as a result, these individuals helped in his survival after his 1873 arrest. Elsewhere in this book, Solomon is also discussed briefly in the essays "Walter Pater and Aesthetic Painting" by Elizabeth Prettejohn and "Versions of the Annunciation: Wilde's Aestheticism and the Message of Beauty" by Colin Cruise.
§ Ferrari, Roberto C. "Simeon Solomon: A Bibliographic Study." The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies 8 (Spring 1999): 69-90.
ANNOTATION: This article is the first bibliographic study of Solomon since the brief one by William Fredeman in Pre-Raphaelitism: A Bibliocritical Study. It is also the basis for this web site.
ANNOTATION: Two of Solomon's works (Bacchus and Dawn) are discussed in this well-illustrated coffeetable-type overview of "essential" Pre-Raphaelite art. The author describes both paintings by Solomon as "sanitized homoeroticism, made palettable to the Victorian art market."
ANNOTATION: Discussion of Solomon is scattered throughout this magnificent overview of British painting during the Victorian era. Lambourne touches on Solomon in the context of his paintings in the 1860s being among the first to depict the erotic male nude, of his influence on the American artist Elihu Vedder, and of his prose-poem's focus on love, sleep, and death being a standard trait of the later Pre-Raphaelite movement. Includes small reproductions of Love in Autumn and both versions of Bacchus.
§ Morgan, Thaïs. "Victorian Effeminacies." Victorian Sexual Dissidence. Ed. Richard Dellamora. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, 109-125.
ANNOTATION: This collection of new essays focuses on what Dellamora calls the "gaying of Victorian studies," new interpretations of late Victorian culture that emphasize sexual dissidence in the context of changing definitions of sexuality and gender identification. Morgan's essay addresses Robert Buchanan's attacks on effeminacy in the works of Rossetti, Swinburne, and Solomon in The Fleshly School of Poetry. In 1872 Buchanan's "effeminacy" was not related to the homosexuality it would become synonymous with later, but rather his definition is based on the classical model of masculinity as a socio-political entity that is the idealized Englishman. It was this model that the works of these men threatened to destroy; Solomon's paintings then were examples of gender deviance for Buchanan, and a threat to English masculinity.
§ Prettejohn, Elizabeth. "'The monstrous diversion of a show of gladiators': Simeon Solomon's Habet!" Roman Presences: Receptions of Rome in European Culture, 1789-1945. Ed. Catharine Edwards. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 157-172.
ANNOTATION: Prettejohn continues her fascinating research on Solomon's work by discussing Habet!, one of his most famous paintings, only recently rediscovered. The painting served two purposes: one, it exemplified Roman decadence, which disturbed Victorians; and two, it demonstrated publicly a work that focused on sadomasochism and homosexuality. She also discusses the painting in contrast to his other classical works from the 1860s, specifically The Toilette of a Roman Lady and Heliogabalus.
§ Saslow, James M. Pictures and Passions: A History of Homosexuality in the Visual Arts. New York: Viking, 1999, 179-181.
ANNOTATION: Saslow's important book introduces the history of homosexual imagery throughout art history. He discusses Solomon in the context of other nineteenth-century figures used classicism as a veil for their homosexual imagery. Saslow mentions the anecdote of Solomon once attending a costume party dressed as Cupid. Includes a reproduction of Bridgroom and Sad Love.
§ White, Chris, ed. Introduction to A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep by Simeon Solomon 1871. Nineteenth-Century Writings on Homosexuality. London: Routledge, 1999, 282.
ANNOTATION: This is the first anthology of gay nineteenth-century literature in a variety of genres from legal writings to erotica. White includes A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep as an example of sexual literature, calling it "an extraordinary document and quite unlike anything else from the period."
This web site was created by Dr Carolyn Conroy and Dr Roberto C. Ferrari, and is therefore copyrighted by law. All digital images were reproduced with the permission of the owners; distribution rights for these works rests with the individuals who own the original work of art. All secondary source material reproduced here is protected by copyright with the author or publisher of the original source. The only exception to this rule are the items made available that are in the public domain. The rules of fair use apply if you wish to use any information from this site for non-profit educational purposes.