Skip to main content

oil painting

© Geffrye Museum, London

Enlarge
‘The Appointment’, a domestic scene with a woman reading a letter, oil on canvas, monogrammed by the artist Rebecca Solomon, 1861, in a gilded composition frame.
Object type: oil painting
Object number: 61/2005

More Information:

Detailed Description: +/-

Title/Model: The Appointment (title assigned by artist)
Physical Description:
Oil on canvas painting in a gilded composition picture frame decorated with moulded ornament and shaped inlay. The frame has a gilt inlay with a semi-circular top.
Materials & technique: oil on canvas in a gilded composition picture frame
Dimensions: Height 54cm (canvas)
Width 41.7cm (canvas)
Height 75.9cm (frame)
Width 63.9cm (frame)
Height 52cm (sight)
Width 41cm (sight)

History: +/-

Date: 1861 (painted)
Period: Victorian (1837-1901)
Artist/Maker Names: Rebecca Solomon (artist)
Object History:
Recent scholarship by Pamela Gerrish Nunn has suggested that the compositional reference of the open door reflects the idea of the male figure or figure from the outside world as a threat to the hearth. This is also seen in Past and Present, No. 1 (1858), by Augustus Leopold Egg, oil on canvas, Tate Britain, London, object number N03278.

This painting appeared in the exhibition Home and Garden Part Two, 1830-1914 at the Geffrye Museum (9 March 2004-18 July 2004), and in the publication Home and Garden: paintings and drawings of English, middle-class, urban domestic spaces, 1675 to 1914, edited by David Dewing (London: Geffrye Museum, 2003). This painting was catalogued by Charlotte Gere (catalogue number 52, pp.168-169). See the Comments field for extracts from the catalogue entry for this painting.

This picture was previously identified as The Love Letter, and its iconography examined from this perspective. See Susan Casteras, <i>The Defining Moment: Victorian Narrative Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection</i> (Charlotte, N.C.: Mint Museum of Art, 2000), catalogue number 45. However, Dr Pamela Gerrish Nunn established that the painting correlates with a one exhibited by Rebecca Solomon in 1861, entitled The Appointment. In The Athenaeum, review of the Winter Exhibition, 23 November 1861, pp.692-3, the painting is described as, 'The Appointment by the same [i.e. Rebecca Solomon] - a young lady impatiently awaiting her lover, whose advent we see by the reflexion in the looking glass behind herself. Her expression is good, and as far as it goes, the work is creditable.'

The female figure depicted stands before the hearth holding a letter. The mantel is covered with a plush fringed valance, with oriental ceramics and a mantel clock under a glass dome. The large ornate gilded mirror on the mantel allows the viewer to see further detail in the room, including gilt framed paintings and a large iron and glass light fitting. It also shows an open door with a stairwell visible in the distance, and the face of a male figure entering the room. The woman, who is dressed as though she has just returned home, is wearing black garments which suggest she may be in mourning. However, the red cloth at her wrist and the white bonnet are not typical mourning attire. One of the letters on the letter rack to the left of the composition has a black rim, another indication of mourning. There is a hint that the male figure poses a threat, although the nature of this, whether financial or otherwise, is unclear.

This painting, and Group portrait of Henry Clark's mother-in-law, Mrs Davies, and four of his children in the drawing room of his home, 186 High Street, Homerton,by William Holman Hunt, were featured in the Geffrye Museum Newsletter, Issue, No. 14, January 2004. A copy of the newsletter is on the object's history file.

The painting is featured in the National Art Collections Fund Review (2003), p.91.
Display Labels:
Label text for the digital interactive located in the Reading Room (September 2015- June 2017):

‘The Appointment’
By Rebecca Solomon
Oil on canvas, dated 1861

The woman in this painting is dressed in a black mourning gown and she holds a letter, possibly a bill. Her expression is not one of friendly greeting for her visitor who is reflected in the corner of the overmantel mirror. It is possible that ‘the appointment’ being kept here and referred to in the title is one to discuss money or business following a death.
References:
Home and garden: paintings and drawings of English, middle-class, urban domestic spaces, 1675 to 1914, edited by David Dewing (London: Geffrye Museum, 2003)

Susan Casteras, The Defining Moment: Victorian Narrative Paintings from the Forbes Magazine Collection (Charlotte, N.C.: Mint Museum of Art, 2000)

National Art Collections Fund, Review (2003)

Past and Present, No. 1 (1858), by Augustus Leopold Egg, oil on canvas, Tate Britain, London (museum number N03278).

Oil paintings in public ownership in London: North & East. Coordinator: Elizabeth Heath; Photographers: Doug Atfield and Andy Johnson (London: Public Catalogue Foundation, 2013).

Subject/Content: +/-

Content Description:
This painting depicts a female figure standing before the hearth holding a letter. The mantel is covered with a plush fringed valance, with oriental ceramics and a mantel clock under a glass dome. The large ornate gilded mirror on the mantel allows the viewer to see further detail in the room, including gilt framed paintings and a large iron and glass light fitting. It also shows an open door with a stairwell visible in the distance, and the face of a male figure entering the room. The woman, who is dressed as though she has just returned home, is wearing black garments which suggest she may be in mourning. She also has a red cloth at her wrist and a white bonnet. There is a letter rack on the wall to the left of the composition.
Themes:
Noticed a mistake? Have some extra information? Please contact us at curatorial@geffrye-museum.org.uk