Friday, November 17, 2006

Art Blogging: Solomon Joseph Solomon

The award for original naming goes to the parents of Solomon Joseph Solomon (1860-1927), an English Pre-Raphaelite/Academic painter. I use the slash because he was completely versatile in both styles. He studied in the Royal Academy in London, the Munich Academy, and the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Alexandre Cabanel. He painted scenes from the Bible and Greek mythology. Solomon served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army during World War I and made significant contributions to the development of camouflage.

Samson and Delilah at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Samson is silent and grim as Delilah taunts him with by waving a lock of his hair. Cabanel's influence is pronounced in the fluid motion and perfect figure presentation.

Ajax and Cassandra at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery in Australia. Cassandra was daughter of King Priam of Troy and gifted with the ability of foretelling. But she spurned the love of Apollo, who cursed her so that no one would ever believe her oracles, including her dire warning about the wooden horse.

For this painting alone, Solomon was compared to Bouguereau. It's a good compliment, but his figure studies are more Cabanel-esque in execution. Bouguereau's figures are still, as though locked in a studio setting; Cabanel is almost always conveying mobility.

[UPDATE: Also, the detailed, naturalistic backgrounds are appropriate for a student of Cabanel. With Bouguereau's backgrounds, you know that you're looking at a painting that originated in a studio.]

So you're probably asking "Now how is this guy a Pre-Raphaelite?" Here's one way: subject matter. This is St. George, the legendary dragon slayer. He did other works that are indisputably Pre-Raphaelite in composition, but I find it hard to regard them as interesting.

Last week, when I wrote about a Symbolist artist, Hypatia 370 commented:

I love that you feature different movements and artists in between the ever-intelligent but often mind-bending dialog. (a good thing).

I'm glad to examine various movements and styles, but my heart belongs to Academic painting. I may play well with others, but I'll always come home to the Academy where the Western tradition reached its apex.

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