Museum of the Home and Tate jointly acquire Rebecca Solomon's 'A Young Teacher'
Museum of the Home and Tate have worked together to bid for, and hold joint ownership of, Rebecca Solomon’s A Young Teacher. Solomon’s iconic painting will be held equally by both organisations.
Following the acquisition, A Young Teacher will first go to Tate Britain to be displayed this summer in their newly opened Pre-Raphaelite room. From late 2024 it will travel to the Museum of the Home to be displayed there.
A Young Teacher is a fascinating, beautiful and important painting, embodying themes of inequality in gender, race, religion, wealth and education in mid-19th century London. At first it seems to be a simple image of a child reading with her sister and a maid. The picture becomes more poignant when we consider that it was painted by a Jewish woman, one of the best-known female artists of her generation and that it depicts a working-class woman of mixed-race heritage.
The painting is a medium-sized oil on canvas in its original arched-top frame. It is signed at bottom left with the artist’s monogram ‘RS’ and the date ‘61’. It was exhibited at Henry Wallis’ French Gallery Winter Exhibition at the end of 1861 and seemingly did not sell, fading into obscurity. It was rediscovered in the mid-1980s when the Geffrye Museum (now Museum of the Home) and Birmingham City Art Gallery held an important exhibition on the Solomon family of artists and the owners of A Young Teacher contacted the curators to share the painting with them.
The main character in A Young Teacher is interpreted as the recipient of the title’s teaching, rather than the teacher herself. As a woman of black heritage in 1861, she would probably not have had a formal education and Solomon seems to be aware of this and sympathetic to it. As a member of the Jewish community living in London in the mid-19th century, Solomon was also part of a marginalised strata of society.
"For Museum of the Home the acquisition of A Young Teacher by Rebecca Solomon underpins the redevelopment of our world-famous period rooms. Not only do we now hold three of Solomon's paintings, we're also bringing to light the neglected history of the South Asian Ayah into our 1870s period room alongside that of Fanny Eaton the painter's model who lived for a while in Shoreditch. We're so grateful to everyone who worked with us to acquire this socially and historically important painting."
- Sonia Solicari, Director at Museum of the Home
Solomon was particularly interested in subjects of contemporary life, often depicting gender, economic or ethnic prejudice. In 1854 she painted The Governess, comparing the lives of a working-class woman and a married woman of a higher status, within a domestic setting. In 1859 she showed her activism for contemporary social reform by joining a group of 38 female artists petitioning the Royal Academy of Arts to open its schools to women – this led to the first woman being admitted to the Academy in 1860. Solomon became the first female artist of Jewish faith to make a reputation as an artist.
This acquisition is of great importance to Museum of the Home. As they develop their galleries and collections to better represent the communities they serve, acquiring a painting where the themes of race, class, faith and gender intersect is of enormous significance.
"Rebecca Solomon’s A Young Teacher is important for many reasons; not just because Solomon was a remarkable pre-Raphaelite painter overlooked in the art historical canon for being female and Jewish, but also for her sensitive depiction of the Jamaican-born Fanny Eaton when people of colour were rarely the subject of Victorian painting. I’m delighted that Art Fund has supported this shared acquisition by Tate and Museum of the Home, bringing the work into public display for current and future generations."
- Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund
Notes to editors
A Young Teacher was acquired jointly by Tate and the Museum of the Home, with funds provided by the Nicholas Themans Trust, Art Fund, the Abbott Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
About Museum of the Home
Museum of the Home’s purpose is to reveal and rethink the ways we live, in order to live better together. Through its collections, exhibitions, events, performances and debates, it reveals diverse, thought-provoking and personal stories of the home from the last 400 years to the present and looking into the homes of the future. www.museumofthehome.org.uk
Tate’s mission is to increase the public understanding and enjoyment of art. It is a family of four galleries – Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool in Merseyside and Tate St Ives in Cornwall – which together welcome millions of visitors each year. Tate also manages the national collection of over 70,000 works of art, acquired and cared for on behalf of the public and shown in venues throughout the UK and across the world. www.tate.org.uk
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk
About Art Fund
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by Art Partners, donors, trusts and
foundations and the 135,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free or discounted entry to over 850 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022 is Horniman Museums & Gardens. www.artfund.org
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by the Arts Council, which advises the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.
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