Ben Uri collection

Self-Portrait with Candles

Artist information

Name Lily Delissa Joseph (1863-1940)

Other name Lily Solomon

Born London, England

Died London, England

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Born Lily Solomon in 1863, Lily Delissa Joseph was the younger sister of the artist Solomon J Solomon, who may have encouraged her to paint. She also trained at the Ridley School of Art and the Royal Academy becoming a portrait, landscape and interior painter with a studio in Bedford Row overlooking the Old Bailey. She exhibited with the Society of Women Artists, the New English Art Club, and the Royal Academy, as well as in the Paris Salons and was later known for her experimentation and a limited palette of white, cobalt, rose madder, orange madder and black. In 1924 she married the architect Delissa Joseph, who built two of her brother Solomon J Solomon's studios, exhibiting her paintings alongside his drawings at the Suffolk Street Galleries in 1924. Deeply involved in the women's suffrage movement, Delissa Joseph was famously unable to attend her own Private View at the Baillie Gallery, London in 1912 after being detained at Holloway Gaol 'on a charge in connection with [the] Women's Suffrage Movement'. One of the first women to own and drive a car, she also learnt to fly aeroplanes when in her fifties. A committed member of the Jewish community, she was involved in many charitable ventures. In 1911 she met the young poet Isaac Rosenberg while painting at the National Gallery (she depicted its interior in a number of works). She employed him briefly as a tutor to her children and her sister Mrs. Henrietta Lowy did the same, before introducing him to their wealthier friend Mrs Herbert Cohen, who sponsored his studies at the Slade School of Art. Lily Delissa Joseph was also religiously observant and well-known for her musical voice in the communal singing at the Brook Green synagogue in Hammersmith – she had also been active in its establishment.

Object Details

Date c. 1906

Object type painting

Medium oil on canvas

Materials and techniques oil (medium) canvas (support)

Unframed 105.5 x 59.5 cm

Framed 126 x 80.4 cm

Signed (lower left) with monogram of initials

Acquisition gift from Mrs Redcliffe Salaman 1948

Accession number 1987-160

Display status not on display

In Self-Portrait with Candles, one of three works in the Ben Uri collection, the artist shows herself in modest dress and with her head covered. She holds the two Shabbat candles which are traditionally kindled by the woman of the house about twenty minutes before sundown to mark the formal beginning of the Sabbath on Friday evening. The work combines her interest in portraiture and interiors, and is influenced by her admiration for Rembrandt, particularly in the use of light and shadow. It also shows her characteristic use of a limited palette of white, cobalt blue and rose or orange madder.

Selected exhibition history

1960 Selection from the Permanent Collection

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