L'Art pour L'Art
Simeon Solomon (1840-1905)
1863 | Watercolor | dimensions: 40.2 x 35 cm.
Simeon Solomon was one of the most distinguished painters of Victorian England's Aesthetic movement. Together with Swinburne, Rossetti, and Burne-Jones, Solomon delighted in the passionate and sensual aspects of life. Although these Pre-Raphaelites did not resist allegorical and classical motifs, they nonetheless led inspired those who held the theory of 'L'Art pour L'Art,' or 'Art for Art's Sake.' First invented by French poet, novelist and critic, Theophile Gautier (1811-1872), the theory denied that art could, or should, be in anyway useful (10).
Two Acolytes Censing, Pentecost Two Acolytes Censing, Pentecost (1863) remains one of Solomon's best known works since it depicts a highly sensual ritual. Nothing indicates that the painting refers to a literary work or has an allegorical meaning; instead, the viewer is supposed to share Solomon's aesthetic appreciation of church ritual. Even though he was Jewish, Solomon, like other Aesthetics, was deeply drawn to ornate High Church and Roman Catholic ceremonies featuring narcissus and arum lilies banked before the alter, candles, altar lights, clouds of incense dispensed from censers, and elaborate dress (14).
Two Acolytes captures the best of those opulent