Catalogue entry

T03063 SAPPHO AND ERINNA IN A GARDEN AT MYTILENE 1864

Inscribed ‘ΣΣ/2.64’ bottom right; inscribed on a label on the stretcher ‘In a garden of Mytilene”/Painted in Water Colors by/ Simeon Solomon/1864’
Watercolour on paper, 13 × 15 (33 × 38.1)
Purchased at Sotheby's Belgravia (Grant-in-Aid) 1980
Prov: Presumably acquired from the artist by James Leathart, who died 1895; sold by his executors, Christie's 19 June 1897 (14), bt Parsons; ...; acquired by Solomon Golding, probably in 1919; his son, Jessel Golding, Manchester, sold Sotheby's Belgravia 9 April 1980 (20, repr.in colour), bt Christopher Wood for the Tate Gallery.
Exh: A Pre-Raphaelite Collection [Leathart Collection], Goupil Gallery 1896 (48, as ‘Sappho and Erinna’).

Solomon depicts Sappho embracing her fellow poet Erinna in a garden at Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Born on Lesbos about 612 B.C., Sappho returned after a period of exile in Sicily and became the centre of a community of young girls devoted to Aphrodite and the Muses. Although the sources available to Solomon suggested that Erinna was part of this community, she is now thought to have lived rather later than Sappho, at the end of the 4th century B.C., and on the Dorian island of Télos rather than Lesbos.

The Newcastle collector James Leathart owned several works by Solomon, all dating from the early 1860s and probably acquired direct from the artist or through the agency of D.G. Rossetti (see The Leathart Collection, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1968, p.34). For a related drawing, see the next item, T 03104.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984