You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

October 9: Art and “Buggery”

October 9, 2014
Simeon_Solomon_-_A_Youth_Relating_Tales_to_Ladies_-_Google_Art_ProjectBritish artist Simeon Solomon, who lived as an “out” homosexual in the mid-to-late 19th century and found his successful career destroyed by his arrests for attempted “buggery” in a public lavatory, was born in Bishopsgate on this date in 1840. He was the youngest member of the first Orthodox family permitted to conduct business in London during the 19th century, and trained as an artist as a child. Solomon’s early works were often based on Biblical themes. In 1857, he met the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists and writers, some of whom, most notably Algernon Charles Swinburne, championed his work, which was featured as illustrations in Swinburne’s 1865 novel Lesbia Brandon and his poem of the same year, “The Flogging Block.” But Solomon’s arrests in both London and Paris (1873, 1874) for illegal sexual activity cost him their support and resulted in his being shunned by galleries, patrons, and friends. Solomon produced artwork well into the 1890s but died a homeless beggar in 1905. “Solomon learned the group’s manner of draftsmanship and designed some stained glass pieces for WIlliam Morris’ firm... The contact with the Pre-Raphaelites... probably influenced Solomon’s adoption of a more androgynous figure style.” —Ray Anne Lockard, GLBTQ Encyclopedia