Portrait of Mrs Patrick Campbell as Paula Tanqueray signed and dated 'S J SOLOMON '94', oil on canvas 240 x 152cm (94 1/2 x 59 13/16in).
EXHIBITED: Royal Academy 1894
In 1894 Solomon produced this impressively large portrait of Mrs Campbell, shown in the role which first brought her to public attention in 1893 as the eponymous subject of Arthur Pinero's The Second Mrs Tanqueray. It clearly borrows compositional elements from another great portrait of a stage figure, Sir Joshua Reynolds's Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse now in the collection of the Dulwich Picture Gallery. There are strong similarities between the two - the pictures are of almost identical size and both figures are seated with one arm extended to the side. As Mrs Siddons was the most significant British actress of the late eighteenth century, it is clear that Solomon was drawing a parallel between the two that would both endorse and flatter his subject.
After it was exhibited at the RA Summer Exhibition of 1894, Solomon made a gift of it to the Club and it has adorned the main staircase for most of its time there. What is surprising is how it escaped destruction from the Dover Street bomb of 1940.
Patrick Campbell had died in the Boer War, but his widow, Beatrice Stella Tanner always worked under his name, and is remembered as much as anything for her long, public affair with George Bernard Shaw. In her youth she had been outstandingly beautiful and her reputation as a devastating wit is apparent from the Shaw/Campbell letters which were published after her death. Today she is probably best remembered for her role as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, a part Shaw created for her in 1914. The public were evidently happy to overlook the fact that she was 49 at the time, given her standing as one of the greatest names on the British stage.