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"He hath Mingled with the Ungodly": The Life of Simeon Solomon After 1873, with a Survey of the Extant Works

Conroy, Carolyn (2009) "He hath Mingled with the Ungodly": The Life of Simeon Solomon After 1873, with a Survey of the Extant Works. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the life and work of the marginalized British Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic homosexual Jewish painter Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) after 1873.This year was fundamental in the artist’s professional and personal life, because it is the year that he was arrested for attempted sodomy charges in London. The popular view that has been disseminated by the early historiography of Solomon, since before and after his death in 1905, has been to claim that, after this date, the artist led a life that was worthless, both personally and artistically. It has also asserted that this situation was self-inflicted, and that, despite the consistent efforts of his family and friends to return him to the conventions of Victorian middle-class life, he resisted, and that, this resistant was evidence of his ‘deviancy’. Indeed, for over sixty years, the overall effect of this early historiography has been to defame the character of Solomon and reduce his importance within the Aesthetic movement and the second wave of Pre-Raphaelitism. It has also had the effect of relegating the work that he produced after 1873 to either virtual obscurity or critical censure. In fact, it is only recently that a revival of interest in the artist has gained momentum, although the latter part of his life from 1873 has still remained under-researched and unrecorded. Therefore, the function of this thesis is to re-evaluate Solomon’s life after his arrest in 1873 and reveal what actually happened to the artist during the final thirty-three years of his life. It does this primarily through a unique study and examination of newly identified archival documents and information. By examining, in particular, the original nineteenth-century records that relate to his arrest in London, and those that record a virtually unknown arrest in Paris in 1874, and putting this in the context of nineteenth-century sodomy law and male homosexual society, it is possible to re-consider Solomon’s previously misunderstood resistance to sexual and societal rehabilitation. It makes use of a new critical understanding, which now suggests the non-repentance of the previously seen tragic figure of the homosexual male in Victorian society, which was promoted in part by the Oscar Wilde trials of 1895. The study of the detail of Solomon’s later life within this thesis will support these new ideas by promoting the suggestion of the artist as self-consciously queer and unapologetic. In addition, this thesis includes, for the first time, a survey of Solomon’s works produced after 1873, which help to provide an approximation of how active Solomon was artistically; suggest what kind of media he was using during certain periods; record who was continuing to buy Solomon’s work at this time, and to make the images of Solomon’s extant work available to future researchers. These extant images appear in Volume II of this thesis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Depositing User: Dr Carolyn Conroy
Date Deposited: 25 May 2010 10:28
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/823

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