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Record Image
Solomon, Solomon Joseph (English, b.1860, d.1927)
Eros
Circa 1921
oil on canvas
1005 mm diameter stretcher size
16-1926
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1926 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
A leading British artist of his time, Solomon Joseph Solomon plied a lucrative trade in élite portraiture. His academic status also depended on the allegorical confections he exhibited at the Royal Academy, works that reflected his training in 19th-century Paris and Munich. By the 1920s, Solomon’s academic style was outmoded but could still serve as a paragon – especially in the further reaches of the British Empire. Eros graced the British art display at the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition held in Dunedin in 1925–1926, from where it was purchased for the Dunedin collection.
The painting should really be titled Eros and Psyche, for it replays a well-worn classical story personifying sexual desire. The circular composition, with its enticing frontal depiction of a swooning Psyche in desperate need of her life-restoring kiss, is strangely reminiscent of a pietà. And judging by his tentative demeanour, the adolescent Eros may not be up to the task – a perverse allegory of impotence before the object of desire. At a distant remove from the niceties of painting flesh and feather was Solomon’s experimentation with military camouflage during World War I, which culminated in his book Strategic Camouflage (1920).

not on view

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