Samson and Delilah

Solomon Joseph Solomon

Solomon Joseph Solomon, Samson and Delilah, 1887. Oil on canvas. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England.

Solomon Joseph Solomon (1860-1927) was a British painter who specialized in portraiture to make a living. Born to Jewish family, he also made a series of large dramatic depictions of biblical stories. Incidentally, he contributed to the development of camouflage, advancing the benefits of camouflage netting for French and British troops in the First World War. Solomon’s Samson takes as inspiration the biblical story of Delilah tricking Samson into telling her the source of his powers—his hair—and then waiting for him to fall asleep. She then calls in the Philistines, who cut off his hair, setting off a sequence of events culminating in his death. Bare-breasted and satisfied with Samson’s difficult circumstances, Delilah is seen at the right edge of this composition. Samson struggles as he is constrained by four men at the moment his prized hair is shaved off. The artist’s skill in depicting human anatomy and perspective adds drama to the work.