Naylor, Aileen Elizabeth (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This thesis has two aims. The first is to demonstrate that commentaries on the work produced by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) before 1873, an artist who was Jewish and homosexual, have been dominated by critics’ perceptions of him as a marginal figure. Solomon’s Jewish heritage and homosexuality doubly marginalised him in the Christian, heterosexual culture of Victorian England so it is understandable that commentators have focused on his minority position and read signs of difference in his works. However, my second aim is to challenge this perspective. I will show how much Solomon’s art had in common with that of his contemporaries and broaden the discussion by analysing paintings which have been given less critical attention, possibly because they do not present so many opportunities to refer to the artist’s marginality. I will suggest alternative interpretations of specific paintings which draw upon other aspects of nineteenth-century English society in order to show how explanations which focus primarily on Solomon’s marginalised identities are not the only and, in some cases, not the most useful ways to read his work.
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