1840 - 1905

Simeon Solomon was born in London into a prominent artistic Jewish family on October 9, 1840. He received painting lessons from his older brother, a well known painter, starting in 1850. Solomon attended Carey's Art Academy in 1852, the same year his older sister first exhibited her works at the Royal Academy. Much of Solomon’s early work was representative of his Jewish background. Solomon was introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti around the time of his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1858. Through Rossetti he met other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, including painter Edward Burne-Jones and most notably poet Algernon Charles Swinburne. Solomon remained an influential young painter in this period, holding exhibitions of his work at the Royal Academy from 1858-1872. In 1864 Solomon’s friendship with Swinburne deepened. He became enamored of the poet’s love of classicism, erotica, and decadence. Solomon’s work from this period seems to reflect an attempt to explore his gay identity and is highlighted by such homoerotic works as Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytelene, Love Among the School Boys, Love in Autumn, and two versions of Bacchus. In 1867 he traveled to Italy with lover Oscar Browning, the couple returned to Rome and Genoa in 1870. During this time that Solomon wrote A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, a prose-poem utilizing Jewish and Christian mysticism to make erotic desire between males aesthetically and morally acceptable. On February 11, 1873, Solomon was arrested at a public urinal in London and charged with attempting to commit sodomy. He was fined, but arrested in Paris under similar charges the following year. This time he was sentenced to three months in prison. Afterwards he was never the same. Most London galleries, patrons, and friends treated him like an outcast and he used alcohol to numb his pain. Solomon died a pauper on 14 August 1905. At the inquest it was declared that his cause of death was heart failure brought on by bronchitis and alcoholism.  


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Judaic

Nations Affiliated United Kingdom Italy France

Era/Epoch Victorian Era (1837-1901)

Field(s) of Contribution


Art, Music, Literature & Theater


World History


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Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Allo Kerstein
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell