Judith on the road

05 Jul

I had planned to present these artworks in the chronology of the story – like a virtual flip book that makes a crude moving picture.  But even when I think I have found ALL the paintings of Judith In The Entire World, I continue to find more.  Which means, some are out of order.  So my decision is to retrace my steps and stick them in where they are appropriate, rather than throwing them all at the end.    Because I’m assuming I have no subscribers at this point who will shout “Hey not fair adding things to the front!.”   I am assuming I have no subscribers period – so I can do what the hell I want.

And today I want to add this work by Simeon Solomon.

Simeon Solomon, “Judith and her Attendant going to the Assyrian Camp,” 1872, Oil on canvas, 106.7 x 228.5 cm, private collection

Solomon was a British Jew from a family of prominent painters.   While studying at the Royal Academy Schools, he was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites.

A side bar on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), since it sounds like a terrorist group that advocates returning to Medieval art.  The PRB was actually a a seven-member “brotherhood” of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848.  The aim of the group was to reject the mechanistic approach of Mannerist artists — believing that the Classical poses of Raphael had corrupted the teaching of art in the Academies.  Except that corruption happened centuries before, so I am not sure what was keeping them from busting out of the mold of the stinky Academy.   PRB continued to focus on history painting and imitation of nature as the “central purpose” of art, so they missed the boat on being the first truly avant-garde art movement.  But they did produce some lovely, romantic works.

Unfortunately Solomon came to a sad end. In what could have been a prolific career today, Solomon was undone by an arrest for attempted sodomy.  It is apparent that much of his work was an attempt to explore homosexuality — at the time it was a crime in Victorian England.   After a short time in prison, he continued to be involved in criminal behavior and his friends soon avoided him. Solomon died a pauper in 1905 of heart failure due to alcoholism.

What beauty he left behind.

In this depiction, Judith is what I would expect.  Lovely face, elegant stature, beautifully adorned.  There is some hesitation but also resolution in her expression. The maid is almost her twin but plainly dressed.  It takes two women to complete this task, and they appear to be aware of the risk as they walk down to road to their goal.

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Story


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