Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) born in London, in a prosperous artistically inclined Jewish family, was a painter, illustrator and engraver. Solomon was inspired by his brother, Abraham (1823-1862), and sister, Rebecca (1832-1886), in pursuing a career as an artist; he trained in his brother's studio, at F. S. Cary's Academy and at the Royal Academy Schools which he joined at the age of 15. He was perhaps one of the most prominent young artists in the Pre-Raphaelite movement in the 1860s.
Initially, Solomon enjoyed success with his paintings and drawings of Old Testament subjects, and magazine editors commissioned illustrations of Jewish customs and rituals from him. Inspired by artists like Rossetti, Burne-Jones and his own Jewish background, he created sensuous and serene images of classical scenes, decorative figures and religious rituals which reflected Pre-Raphaelite influence.
From the 1880s, his mystic chalk drawings of human heads and forms became popular with the connoisseurs. Solomon is often said to have become a Symbolist in the final years of his career. “Potens” and “Head of Christ,” both completed in 1896, and “Icarus,” dated 1887, are typical of his Symbolist art.
Christie’s London will auction Solomon’s works at its Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art on July 11 will have 26 lots. Also, Sotheby’s London on July 12 at its Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art sale will features the artist’s creations and includes nine lots.
Here is a performance analysis of Solomon’s artworks in the auction market:
1. Sales Trend in the Past 20 Years
The sale of Solomon’s artworks auctioned annually in the past two decades has been low, never exceeding $1 million (each year). Solomon’s artworks had a record year in 2016, with total sales of $802,213 for five lots. That was the year that his work “Carrying the Scrolls of the Law” set an auction record for the artist when it sold for $492,500, nearly double its high estimate of $250,000, at Sotheby’s Important Judaica in New York.
But in 2017, with six lots, his sales only totaled $116,810.
Upcoming auctions will feature 35 lots of his work, so we expect that 2018 could change the trend for the artist.
2. Volume of Artworks on Offer vs. Bought-in Rate
Between 2013 and 2015, all the lots offered at auction were sold. But since 2015, the bought-in rate has been on the rise and in 2017, it reached 33.3 percent, with nine lots on offer and three lots unsold.
In 2017, one of his works “Requiem Et Pacem Nobis Dom,” which had a high estimate of $31,785, was left unsold at Christie’s Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art auction in London, which affected the sales total for the artist in that year.
3. Average and Median Sale Price Trend in the Past 20 Years
With 2016 being a record year for the artist (as seen in section-1), the average sale price that year reached a peak of $160,443. But in 2017, the average price went down because none of the lower-level works offered at auction sold for more than $64,000.
4. Highest-Priced Artworks
Solomon’s top 10 works in terms of price were sold at the major auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s.
His highest-ever sale was “Carrying the Scrolls of the Law,” which sold for $492,500 at Sotheby’s New York in December 15, 2016. The work-on-oil canvas, signed with monogram and dated 1871 (lower left) is inscribed "Rabbi Carrying the Law" by Simeon Solomon (on a label attached to the stretcher).
Earlier, on July 13, 2016, his “A Prelude by Bach,” a work on paper laid canvas with pencil, watercolor and body color, and signed with monogram and dated “1868”(lower right), fetched $239,250 at Christie’s London. This was one of his most important and attractive works.
His third highest was “Rabbi carrying the scrolls of the law,” oil-on-canvas, which sold for $235,776 at Sotheby’s London on December 14, 2006.
5. Price Band in Which His Works Have Sold in the Past 20 Years
About 39 percent of his works sold for less than $5,000; followed by 35.6 percent sold in the $10,000 to $50,000 range. Very few (2.2 percent, or three lots) of his works were sold in the band of $100,000 to $1 million, in the past 20 years.
6. Where His Works Have Sold the Most in the Past 20 Years
Christie’s and Sotheby’s accounted for 92 percent of the artist’s total sales in the past two decades.In terms of volume, while over 74 percent of the artist’s work is being sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, a significant 25 percent is being sold at other auction houses.
The geographical share of his sales also shown in the below graph.
Founder Louise Blouin