Simeon Solomon was born into a prominent Jewish family in London. He trained at his brother Abraham's studio in Gower Street, then at Cary's Academy in Bloomsbury, following which in 1855 he attended the RA schools, having his first picture exhibited at the Academy when he was only 18 years old.
His brother Abraham Solomon and sister Rebecca Solomon were also artists.
Early on, Simeon Solomon met Rossetti, and became part of his circle. He produced very Pre-Raphaelite pictures, and was also influenced in his art by Burne-Jones. He was part of a sketching society with Albert Moore, Henry Holiday and W. B. Richmond, and was also a friend of E. J. Poynter, later to become President of the Royal Academy. His friends included others within the larger Pre-Raphaelite circle, such as Holman Hunt, Tennyson and Swinburne.
Unfortunately, Solomon was arrested for indecent exposure in 1871, at which all his friends dropped his acquaintance, and he became a pariah, moving to the workhouse and eventually dying of drink. However, even in his decline, he continued to paint, selling his work to college students at one pound a time in the mid-70s.
Solomon's work includes Moses, which on exhibition in 1860 at the Royal Academy received wide praise and gave a big boost to his career, Isaac and Rebecca, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, typical of his old testament works, and several ideal portraits, of which an example is at Leighton House. He also made several illustrations for magazines near the beginning of his career.
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