Eve is one of the most important female icons in 19th century Art. Her role is one of the supports of the misogyny and identification of woman with evil. Eve and the serpent are the satanic couple which deserved the expulsion of mankind from Paradise. This stigma drives parallel to the increasing of the woman power in society, and is identified with the femme fatale. The woman could be the angel of home or the femme fatale, these were the two options for women in 19th century society.
Eve and the serpent didn´t appear only in the Bible or Paradise Lost, they appear transformed in Lilith (first wife of Adam), Salambó (Flaubert’s novel), Baudelaire’s poem The serpent who dances or mythological tales such as Cadmus and Harmonia, Lamia or Dripoe and Apollo.
The example we found in Solomon’s Eve is totally different of those examples that I have quoted before.
Simeon Solomon (1840-1905) is a late Pre-Raphaelist devoted to historic, Judaic and Biblical themes, just like the painters of this pictorial movement. Furthermore he painted homosexual and androgynous themes as Sad Love or Erinna, because he was homosexual. He was jailed accused of sodomy like his friend Oscar Wilde.
This sexual connotation could explain the strange way of representing Eve in this post. Usually, this theme represents the moment in which Eve tastes the apple and seals the pact with the Devil. If we look this painting we find several differences with the traditional way of representation. Eve is rising up with the help of two “angels” while Adam stays asleep or fallen. Eve is completely nude and she has no shame. The beauty of Eve is elevated, and with her, the role of women, while men are decaying.
Maybe Solomon thought that mankind leave ignorance thanks to Eve, and the fact of tasting the apple saved all human beings. The paint is the triumph of beauty and knowledge.
In a second stage, we can compare this painting with a Virgin’s Ascension or, even more blasphemous, with a female crucifixion: Eve is raised by the angels that hang their arms and the position is just like a crucifixion. I think the body position is not ingenuous, I think is deliberate to suggest a transgression. Anyway, this kind of apparent crucifixion is not so obvious like fin de siècle images just like The temptation of Saint Anthony by Félicien Rops.
This is only an interpretation of a not wellknown painting by Solomon that is not a famous Pre-Raphaelite. However this painting is very interesting and not very considered in Art. This oil on canvas has been recently sold by £713,250, not so much for this interesting work of Art.