Rebecca Solomon (1832-1886). The Governess — "Ye too, the friendless, yet dependent, that find nor home nor lover. Sad imprisoned hearts, captive to the net of circumstance." — Martin Tupper. Exhibited: Royal Academy 1854. No. 425.

Although the governess is a stock figure in Victorian novels, her appearance in a pictures is less frequent. The most famous example is Redgrave's Poor Teacher (Victoria and Albert Museum) and most other artists seem to share Redgrave's view of the governess as a downtrodden and oppressd figure. In this recently discovered picture by Rebecca Solomon the governess, attractive but dressed in black, reads to her pupil, and her lot is contrasted with that of her mistress who plays, the piano while her husband gazes adoringly at her. Rebecca Solomon's own career came to a tragic end. She seems to have shared in The disgrace of her i brother Simeon, and gave up painting after 1869. The DNB says 'she developed I ike Simeon an errant nature and came to disaster'.[Christopher Wood, Blessed Damozel]

Related Material


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

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

Last modified 17 July 2006