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The Claim for Shelter [The Fugitive Royalists] (1862) by Rebecca Solomon. G. Greatbach, engraver. Source: the 1869 The Art-Journal. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

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Art-Journal Commentary

THE female artists of England have attained a position which, measured by the excellent works produced by not a few of them, cannot justly be ignored; and although, unlike Angelina Kauffman, whose name appears among the earliest members of the Royal Academy, the claims of her successors have been ignored by the Academy, this is no proof that they have not shown themselves equally, if not more, entitled to participate in the honours which the institution has to bestow. Painting and sculpture are at the present time both well represented by the “gentle” sex, and if in the former art we have not a Madlle. Rosa Bonheur to take the lead of our school in cattle-painting, we have those who in genre, landscape, and flower-painting, both in oils and water-colours, are entitled to distinctions which at some time or other perhaps not far distant the Academy may not consider it beneath its dignity to recognise. At any rate we have in Art, as in literature, many among us to prove that men do not monopolize all the talent of the country.

Miss Rebecca Solomon, the painter of ‘The Claim for Shelter,’ is of a family in which the genius of painting has found a home. She is the daughter of the late Mr. A. Solomon, and sister of Mr. S. Solomon, both of them artists whose works have been favourably recognised by the press and the public. The mantle of the father has rested on the shoulders of his children, and the daughter certainly does not wear the smallest portion of it: it seems to be equally shared by the two. For several years past Miss Solomon has been almost a regular contributor to the exhibitions of the Academy, but rarely sending more than one picture annually. Among these may be named ‘A Friend in Need,’ ‘Tis better to be lowly born,’ ‘Behind the Curtain,’ ‘Love’s Labour Lost,’ ‘ The Arrest of a Deserter,’ ‘Good Night’ ‘Harry Esmonde’s Welcome at Walcote,’ ‘The Lion and the Mouse,’two pictures were exhibited under the title, in 1865, each showing a different reading to the other,‘Heloise,’ and ‘Giovanni, Rome.’ ‘The Claim for Shelter’ was exhibited in 1862, when it bore the title of ‘Fugitive Royalists,’ one which we considered less expressive of the exact meaning of the subject than that we have given to it, besides being less common; yet neither seems clearly to define the nature of the composition. A royalist lady, claiming protection for herself and youthful son, has entered the house of a Puritan, and is introduced into a chamber where a young sick girl lies; she has fallen asleep, it would seem, with an open Bible on her lap. The line

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,”

was appended to the title in the catalogue, and, it may be assumed, serves as a key to the reading of the subject; the lady, fearing for the life of her own child, is touched with sympathy for the invalid, though the child of one who may have aided in the ruin of her house and the flight of its inmates. The story may not be very perspicuously told in this instance, but the characters themselves are skilfully and picturesquely brought together. [184]

Bibliography

The Blessed Damozel: Women and Children in Victorian Art. London: Christopher Wood Gallery, 1980. No. 5.

“From the Picture in the possession of the Publishers: The Claim for Shelter.” Art Journal (1869): 184-85. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 6 April 2014.

The Emergence of Jewish Artists in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Exhibition Catalogue. Ed. Susan Tumarkin Goodman. London: Merrell; New York: Jewish Museum, 2001.


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