Solomon, Abraham (DNB00)
|←Solms, Heinrich Maastricht||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 53
SOLOMON, ABRAHAM (1823–1862), painter, second son of Michael Solomon, a Leghorn-hat manufacturer, by his wife Catherine, was born in Sandy Street, Bishopsgate, London, in August 1823. His father was the first Jew to be admitted to the freedom of the city of London. Two members of the family besides Abraham became artists. A younger brother, Simeon, acquired some reputation as a pre-Raphaelite painter and pastellist; he exhibited domestic subjects at the Royal Academy from 1858 to 1872; his crayon drawings of idealised heads are still popular. A sister, Rebecca Solomon, exhibited domestic subjects at the Royal Academy and elsewhere between 1851 and 1875, and died on 20 Nov. 1886.
At the age of thirteen Abraham became a pupil in Sass's school of art in Bloomsbury, and in 1838 gained the Isis silver medal at the Society of Arts for a drawing from a statue. In 1839 he was admitted as a student of the Royal Academy, where he received in the same year a silver medal for drawing from the antique, and in 1843 another for drawing from the life. His first exhibited work, ‘Rabbi expounding the Scriptures,’ appeared at the Society of British Artists in 1840, and in the following year he sent to the Royal Academy ‘My Grandmother’ (now belonging to a cousin) and a scene from Sir Walter Scott's ‘Fair Maid of Perth.’ These were followed (at the Academy) by a scene from the ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ in 1842, another from Crabbe's ‘Parish Register’ in 1843, and a third from ‘Peveril of the Peak’ in 1845. ‘The Breakfast Table,’ exhibited in 1846, and a further scene from the ‘Vicar of Wakefield’ in 1847, attracted some attention. In 1848 appeared ‘A Ball Room in the year 1760,’ and in 1849 the ‘Academy for Instruction in the Discipline of the Fan, 1711,’ both of which pictures were distinguished by brilliancy of colour and careful study of costume. ‘Too Truthful’ was his contribution to the exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1850, and ‘An Awkward Position’—an incident in the life of Oliver Goldsmith—to that of 1851. In 1851, also, he sent to the British Institution ‘Scandal’ and ‘La petite Dieppoise.’ In 1852 appeared at the Academy ‘The Grisette’ and a scene from Molière's ‘Tartuffe’—the quarrel between Mariane and Valère, where Dorine interferes—and in 1853 ‘Brunetta and Phillis,’ from the ‘Spectator.’ In 1854, he sent to the Academy ‘First Class: the Meeting,’ and ‘Second Class: the Parting.’ Both were engraved in mezzotint by William Henry Simmons [q. v.], and marked a great advance in Solomon's work. They show an originality of conception and design which is not apparent in his earlier work. His next contributions to the Royal Academy were ‘A Contrast’ in 1855, ‘The Bride’ and ‘Doubtful Fortune’ in 1856, and ‘Waiting for the Verdict’ in 1857. The last picture greatly increased his popularity; but its companion, ‘Not Guilty,’ exhibited in 1859, was less successful. Both are now the property of C. J. Lucas, esq., and were engraved by W. H. Simmons. ‘The Flight,’ ‘Mlle. Blaiz,’ and ‘The Lion in Love’ (also engraved by Simmons) were exhibited at the academy in 1858; ‘Ici on rase, Brittany,’ and ‘The Fox and the Grapes’ in 1859; ‘Drowned! Drowned!’ in 1860; ‘Consolation’ and ‘Le Malade Imaginaire’ in 1861; and ‘The Lost Found’ in 1862. ‘Art Critics in Brittany’ appeared at the British Institution in 1861. His last work, ‘Departure of the Diligence at Biarritz,’ is now at the Royal Holloway College, Egham.
Solomon died at Biarritz, of heart disease, on 19 Dec. 1862. He married, on 10 May 1860, Ella, sister of Dr. Ernest Hart; she survived her husband.[Art Journal, 1862 pp. 73–5, 1863 p. 29; Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists of the English School, 1878; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1841–62; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1851–61; Exhibition Catalogues of the Society of British Artists, 1840–3.]