Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘S J S [in monogram] 05’ b.l.
Canvas, 63 1/2×69 (161×175).
Presented by the artist's widow 1938.
Exh: R.A., 1905 (80), as ‘Papa Painting!’; R.A., Late Members, winter 1928 (303); Paintings by Solomon J. Solomon, R.A. and Lily Delissa Joseph, Ben Uri Gallery, May 1946 (76, repr.).
Lit: Olga Somech Phillips, Solomon J. Solomon: A Memoir of Peace and War, n.d. [1933], pp.83, 85, 89, 223.
Repr: Royal Academy Pictures, 1905, p.91; Art Journal, 1905, p.165, as ‘Papa Painting’.

The painting shows the artist's wife Ella, daughter of Hyman Montagu, F.S.A., whom he married in 1897 (and who died in 1957) and, looking from left to right of the picture, his eldest daughter Mary (b. 1898, now Mrs Ronald Rubinstein), his youngest child Iris Rachel (b. 1903, now the Hon. Mrs Ewen Montagu), and standing on the right, his son Dorian Joseph (b. 1901). In a letter to the compiler (7 July 1958) Mrs Montagu wrote: ‘I am the baby who gave the title to the portrait by (so I am told) taking up the pose, pointing at Father and saying “Papa painting”.’

An oil sketch (18×24 in.) for the painting belongs to Mrs J. H. Simon, and shows the mother and Mary Solomon. There are certain variations; Mary's head is turned to the left and her mother's hair style is different, not being unswept. Two sketches of the head of Mrs Ewen Montagu, one in oil, the other a chalk drawing on brown paper, were lent by her to the Ben Uri Art Gallery exhibition in 1946 (59 and 60).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II