Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)
Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)

A priestess of Diana offering Poppies

Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)
A priestess of Diana offering Poppies
signed with device and dated '5 64' (lower left)
pencil and watercolour heightened with gum arabic and bodycolour on paper
16 ¾ x 12 ½ in. (42.5 x 31.7 cm.)
Mr and Mrs Bell, commissioned from the artist.
with Agnew's, Manchester.
F.R. Leyland; Christie's, London, 9 March 1872, lot 10 (19 gns to Tooth).
Richard Mills; Christie's, London, 13 April 1908, lot 32 (26 gns to Pike).
Pike, and by descent.
Anonymous sale; Phillips, London, 14 May 1996, lot 52.
with Peter Nahum, London, where purchased by the present owner.
Chichester, Pallant House Gallery, Innocence and Decadence: Flowers in Northern European Art 1880-1914, 1999.

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Clare Keiller
Clare Keiller

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Lot Essay

In the 1860s Solomon was at the height of his popularity, and was fascinated by depictions of the female form in classical drapery, often taking Greek and Roman gods ands and myths as his subject. This type of classical subject was popularised by contemporaries such as Sir Edward Poynter (1836-1919), and anticipates that of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), although Solomon's work is often rather more intense and less idealised than either of these two. The priestess in the present drawing wears a diadem in the shape of a crescent moon - a clear reference to Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt, the moon, and childbirth. Her sensuous classicism is typical of this period of Solomon's work, whilst her offering of poppies, with their innate reference to laudanum, has a darker undertone given the direction his life was later to take.


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