Study for the figure of the executioner in 'The Judgement of Solomon', ca.1812
Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786 - 1846)
RA Collection: Art
These drawings are studies for, or relating to, 'The Judgement of Solomon' (Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery) which Haydon painted between 1812-1814. The painting was first exhibited at the Oil and Water Colour Society, Spring Gardens 1814, and was purchased by Sir William Elford and J. W. Tingcombe for £735. While working on this painting Haydon became particularly interested in the Raphael Cartoons and the work of Michelangelo. He also studied Poussin, who painted this subject in 1649.
Haydon's diaries provide a considerable amount of information on his preparation for the 'Judgement of Solomon'. On the 8th April 1812 he wrote that, 'the mother should be as if she had burst out of her usual modesty; the moment she recollected herself she would blush'. In 1813 he recorded that the model for this figure was 'Patience Smith, a gipsy, about sixteen, with jet hair and brunette face - a perfect Raffaele. She sat for the young mother running off with her two children...She was a beautiful creature in figure as well as in face'. On the 3rd October 1812 Haydon noted that he had 'made an accurate drawing for the executioner from my old and faithful model, Sammons (who goes on Wednesday to Spain)…He sat for Macbeth and Dentatus, and has the cleanest wrists I ever saw'.
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