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Sold at Auction: Solomon Alexander Hart



Solomon Alexander Hart RA (April 1806 – 11 June 1881) was a British painter and engraver.[1] He was the first Jewish member of the Royal Academy in London and was probably the most important Jewish artist working in England in the 19th century.

He was born at Plymouth, the son of Samuel Hart (fl. 1785–1830), a Jewish engraver and teacher of Hebrew. After completing his basic education, he was apprenticed to another local engraver. Later, he became the first Jew to enroll at the Royal Academy. While there, he worked in a variety of styles from genre to historical scenes and practiced several engraving and sketching techniques. He especially excelled in miniatures.

In 1826, he débuted at one of the Academy's exhibitions with a portrait of his father. By 1840, he was successful enough to be accepted as a member of the Academy. The following year, he embarked on a study trip to Italy and spent a great deal of time in Florence. In 1854, he was appointed a Professor at the Academy and RA Librarian from 1864-1881.

Although his early works were largely Jewish-themed, his exposure to Italian art (especially the works of Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Ognissanti) added motifs from church and monastery paintings. He also regularly provided illustrations for periodicals such as The Athenaeum and The Jewish Chronicle.

He never married and, in his later years, gradually lost his eyesight, although he continued to paint as long as possible.
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