Joseph Solomon


Artist Biography:

A British painter from a Jewish family, he was a founding member of the New English Art Club and a member of the Royal Academy. He was a pioneer in methods of camouflage technique and made an important contribution to the development of camouflage in the First World War. Born 16 September 1860 in London, Solomon studied at various art schools: Heatherley’s Art School, the Royal Academy Schools, the Munich Academy, and at the École des Beaux-Arts. He exhibited his first works as early as 1881 at the Royal Academy, and displayed at the New Gallery and the Society of British Artists. In 1886, he became one of the founding members of the New English Art Club, and ten years later he became an associate of the Royal Academy, with full membership following in 1906; he was one of the few Jewish painters to gain this. In 1919 he joined, and became president of, the Royal Society of British Artists. Solomon was greatly influenced by his teacher, Alexandre Cabanel, as well as by Frederic Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. He painted mainly portraits, but also created dramatic, theatrical scenes from mythology and the bible on large canvases. These scenes include some of his more popular paintings. Solomon gained his renown as an innovate portrait artist and went on to paint a number of portraits of well-known people, including the architect Sir Aston Webb, and later in life, the royals King George V, Queen Mary and Prince Edward (who later became King Edward VIII). He was also in demand as a book illustrator, particularly adventure books. He served with the Royal Engineers in 1916 – 1918, as head of the British Camouflage Section. Having originally signed-up at the start of the war as a private in the United Art Rifles, a home defence corps, he initially promoted his ideas on camouflage in the press, and then directly to senior army officers. In December 1916, Solomon established a camouflage school in Hyde Park which was eventually taken over by the army. Solomon died 27 July 1927 at Birchington, Kent.

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