Solomon J. Solomon

Ajax and Cassandra

  • Artist
    Solomon J. Solomon
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
    Ajax and Cassandra
  • Date of Production
  • Medium
    oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    304.5 x 152.5 cm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, 1888

A portrait painter as well as a painter of large canvasses in the academic French style, Solomon J. Solomon trained at Heatherley's Art School, the Munich Academy and Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris.

Much of the inspiration for his large epic works came from biblical or classical mythology. Ajax and Cassandra, with Cassandra clinging to the plinth of Athena's statue while Ajax attempts to abduct her is based on the story of the Rape of Cassandra told in Book II of Virgil's Aeneid.  Cassandra, a daughter of the Trojan king had spurned the advances of Apollo, who punished her by ordaining that although she should always make true prophecies they would not be believed. The Trojans rejected her warnings that Troy was in imminent danger and when the Greeks sacked the city Cassandra fled to the Temple of Athena. It was from here that Cassandra was dragged by Ajax, and it was for this crime that he was later  killed by Athena and the sea god Poseidon

This is arguably the most ambitious and grandest purchase of the Gallery in the first years of its existence, having been acquired with the aid of a colonial government grant.  It was this painting with its dramatic subject that was to make such a lasting impression on Norman Lindsay when visiting the Gallery as a young boy.