First Class: The Meeting ... and at First Meeting Loved, 1854
oil on canvas
69 x 97 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 14667)
Abraham Solomon was a painter of Jewish heritage, whose brother Simeon and sister Rebecca were also artists. He studied at the Royal Academy in London and began his career with historical and literary subjects. "First Class: The Meeting ... and at First Meeting Loved" brought the artist his first critical success when it was exhibited at the Academy in 1854 and marks a shift in his work to contemporary subject matter. The flirtatious nature of the encounter between the young woman and man was thought scandalous by Solomon's Victorian audience, and he felt obliged to paint a second version in which the older man is awake and sits between the couple, talking to the younger man.