Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) was one of the most promising artists of his generation. But there's a reason why you might not have heard of him. His career ended in February 1873 when he was arrested in a public toilet for attempting to engage in sexual activity with another man. Sex between men was illegal at this time and remained so until 1967. This led to his work being omitted from many important art collections and exhibitions in the years that followed.
You can now see two of Solomon's paintings, 'Girl at a Fountain' and 'The Mystery of Faith' in Room 8 at the Walker.
About the Artist
Solomon was born into a wealthy Jewish family in London. His talent, good looks and personal charm made him popular in fashionable artistic and literary circles of his day. The artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) called him ‘the greatest artist of us all’.
Solomon’s work frequently drew on religious subjects, and explored beauty ideals in all genders. His paintings are often highly sensual and even erotic, featuring androgynous figures that are neither male nor female. Solomon’s sexuality was known to some of his friends, but the scandal of his arrest caused many to disown him. He died in a workhouse in 1905.
Solomon refused to apologise for who he was. He became a cult figure after his arrest with other people who were open to same-sex relationships. They shared cheap reproductions of his work made by printers experimenting with early photography. He continues to be an inspiration for other young artists and people seeking to be true to themselves.