Thursday, August 26, 2010

Abraham Solomon - A Sketch from Memory

Price Realized £17,925

signed and dated 'A Solomon 1851' (lower right)
oil on canvas, painted arch
12 x 14¼ in. (30.5 x 36.2 cm.)

This young woman is clearly not a professional artist. Well dressed and evidently with time on her hands, she is one of the innumerable Victorian amateurs who enjoyed exercising their aritstic talents, which were often considerable. We can imagine her receiving early instruction from an itinerant drawing-master, someone like John Sell Cotman, David Cox, or one of their successors.

As the cataloguers of the Pursuit of Leisure exhibition observe, the picture also invites a 'more sentimental reading'. The girl's 'male subject is clearly not present, and her abstracted gaze suggests a reverie of imagination or memory. Her situation, seated on a balcony, overlooking a continental landscape, whilst supported by pillows, wrapped in a fur-edged jacket and supplied with the delicacy of grapes, might inform a Victorian audience that she is convalescent and using her artistic skills to focus her reflections on the beloved at home.'

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