Sarah Salaman [née Solomon, 1844-1931]

Little is known of Sarah, other than the description of her left by her son Redcliffe [above]:

She went to the then well-known Jewish Neumegen School in Kew, where the girls of the best families were given what was considered an adequate education. As far as my mother was concerned, it can be said that she spoke charmingly, she wrote a lively, newsy letter in a perfact Italianate hand…

My mother had the reputation of being one of the best-looking women of her circle, and judging from contemporary portraits there is no need to doubt it. When the first Sassoon to settle in London arrived, he was asked by someone whether he would like to attend the wedding of the most beautiful girl in the London Community. He came, and gave my mother a handsome cashmere shawl, which I well remember. Good looks and a perfect figure were hers to the end of her 87 years, no less than the gift of dressing well. Looking back and remembering how pleased my father was to see his wife looking so handsome and well dressed, I am amazed at the absence of any conceit or personal pride in my mother's behaviour, due, I think, to an innate sense of dignity which never forsook her. Her married life lasted 43 years; they were a devoted couple. My father was the undisputed leader and final arbiter in all affairs, though he never interfered in her household matters, he freely discussed his with her. After my father's death in 1896, my mother's latent ability to deal with things and people, which had to a great extent been obscured in face of the more forceful character of her husband, now emerged … No picture of my mother could be adequate which did not enlarge on her generosity both to those less fortunate of her own family, and to public causes. She never took a particular cause to her heart, partly because after my father's death, and indeed before it, she lived only within her family, and partly because she was fundamentally shy and retiring.

A plaster bust of her is here.

George Woolf [1812-1851]

George was one of eight children of Joseph Woolf (1770-1837) and his wife Alice (Ailsey) (1776-1876). George first appears in public records in the 1841 census, where he is living in a lodging house in Denzell Street, London. Living there, too, was one of his sisters, Sophia, and her husband Morris Jewell and their children Joseph, aged three and Caroline aged eleven months.

On 28 September 1842, George married Maria Mordecai at his home, 106 Shoe Lane in the City of London, ‘according to the rites and ceremonies of German and Polish Jews’. George gave his occupation as ‘accountant’, and Maria didn’t have one. Their son, Joseph, was born on 18 April 1844, but tragedy was to strike this little family. In the cholera epidemic of 1848-49 Maria became infected, and on 18 June 1849 she died at home, aged 32. The cause of her death was given as ‘diarrhoea 8 days, cholera 4 days, premature labour 32 hours, exhaustion’. The baby also died.

George stayed on at 106 Shoe Lane with his son Joseph, and employed a housekeeper, Elizabeth Bradley. They all appear in the 1851 census, where George gave his occupation as ‘accountant and law clerk’. He appeared, too, in the records of the Old Bailey, giving evidence several times for the Crown against various people accused of different petty crimes.

Tragedy was never far away. On 27 June 1851, George died from ‘phthisis 6 months certified’. He would have known he was dying, and probably because of this had the portraits made of himself and his son. George left a long and complicated will. It named his mother and siblings, leaving them one shilling each, a device to stop them challenging the will. The rest of his estate (and he listed many possessions, including plate, paintings and jewellery) he left to his six year old son, Joseph.

Joseph Woolf [1844-1911]

Joseph (sometimes recorded as Joseph George) was the only surviving child of George Woolf and Maria Mordecai and was born at the home of his parents, 106 Shoe Lane in the City of London. His mother Maria died in the 1848-9 cholera epidemic, and the child she was carrying, Joseph’s brother or sister, died with her. Joseph and his father stayed on in the family home, with a housekeeper Elizabeth Bradley. Joseph was orphaned in June 1851 when his father George died from tuberculosis, leaving his estate to the six-year-old child. Because George would have known he was dying, it is believed that this is why he had the portraits made of himself and his son.

Nothing is known about Joseph between 1851 and 1861. The family assume that one of his aunts or uncles brought him up. Indeed, there is a family story about wicked uncles embezzling Joseph’s fortune that they were holding in trust, but there are wicked uncles in every fairy story!

Joseph appears in the 1861 census as a sixteen-year-old young man, lodging with Francis and Rosetta Louis at 173 Canterbury Cottages, Lambeth. Francis is an upholsterer and Joseph is apprenticed to him. This was clearly a good apprenticeship, because for the rest of his working life, Joseph was an upholsterer.

On 13 July 1865 Joseph married Elizabeth Jane Holmes, the daughter of his then landlady, Elizabeth Holmes. They were married in Marylebone Register Office. By marrying ‘out’ it is understood that there would have been no further contact with Joseph’s Jewish family and, indeed, there are no family, or public, records from this date that include them.

Joseph and Elizabeth (who was also an upholsterer) lived for many years in Boston Place, Islington, but by the 1901 census were living in Esmond Road, Willesden, where Elizabeth died from tuberculosis in that year. Joseph and Elizabeth had thirteen children, with six girls and four boys surviving into adulthood.

Joseph died from cancer and cardiac failure on 22 December 1911, aged 67. To his dying day he would never either admit or deny that he had been born a Jew, but remained obstinately silent on the subject.

I am grateful to Rosemary Rees for this information, and for the photos which are shown under Jas Ashley at Painters E-K.

Sitters: Salaman to Woolf

A word of explanation about the name Salaman. As Redcliffe Salaman (below) put it in his unpublished typescript ‘Boyhood and the family’ c 1950: ‘Why Isaac (his grandfather) altered his name from ‘Solomon’ to ‘Salaman’, I have never been able to discover. It may have been due to a misunderstanding on the part of the sign-painter, for some fifty years later a similar blunder had to my knowledge that effect on the business name of another Solomon family. In any case the family name has been ‘Salaman’ now for over one hundred and thirty years and I, personally, am grateful’. This explains how the Solomon family of painters were Myer Salaman’s (below) first cousins.

For the inter-connections much of the genealogy is to be found here.


Chattie (Charlotte) Baldwin Salaman [née Wake, 1875-1972]

Chattie could claim direct descent from Hereward the Wake. Apparently her childhood had been unhappy, including being sent away to school in Germany. She became a committed atheist in a devout Anglican family, and as soon as she could, she left home to attend Heatherley's School of Art, as had Solomon J Solomon.

She met Michel at an art school fancy dress ball: she was graceful and with chestnut red wavy hair and hazel eyes. She was very lovely and radiated a natural, completely unconscious charm. Michel was small and slight, scarcely taller than Chattie and with an almost identical shade of auburn hair, indeed they were often taken for brother and sister. His personality was magnetic drawing all people old and young.

As can be seen both from her self-portrait and her portrait of her brother-in-law Redcliffe she was a most accomplished artist. However, Michel considered that as neither of them were as talented as Augustus or Gwen John they should give it up, our loss.

Edmund Salaman [1903-    ]—see Florence Salaman, below

Elkin Salaman [1870-1919]

I know little of him, other than his marriage to Florence (Fox), below in 1902. In a typsecript about his family my father recorded the single word 'regrettable' against his name.Was he perhaps the first of the family to ‘marry out’?

Elsewhere he is described as a businessman and property developer, and his portrait was painted by Waldo Murray, a pupil of John Singer Sargent ‘a portrait painter of increasing prestige’ fl 1945.

Florence Salaman

I know even less than of her husband, Elkin (above) other than that she was American, married him in 1902 and she bore him two sons and two daughters between 1903 and 1912.

Her portrait, with her sons Edmund and Hugh was painted by Leon Sprinck. Her younger daughter, Peggy, achieved fame at the age of 19 by breaking the record for a flight from England to Cape Town in 1931 in her De Havilland Puss Moth ‘Good Hope’ and being perhaps the only one of my cousins to become a ‘deb’. The flight was reported world-wide throughout the week it took and after, with a double-page spread in Time magazine, perhaps as en route she collected two lion cubs, who were bottle-fed on board, by her and her co-pilot.

According to The Canberra Times before she left Lymne airfield she said ‘Cheerio, mummy, I'll be back soon’. Apparently she was tired of living in luxury and told a journalist ‘I am going to have a great adventure, but don't make too great a song about it, at least until I get there. I have great faith in the Good Hope, which won the King's Cup race for fastest time for any machine, lt is now fitted with a metal propeller, enabling it to do 131 miles an hour. I intend flying for 15 consecutive hours. Mr Store will sometimes take over the controls. We have two revolvers, an alarm clock, and chewing gum to stop leakages in the petrol tanks. We also have sun helmets and shorts; I am taking an evening gown to make whoopee in Capetown, although I don’t like dancing, smoking, and other modern feminine crazes. I do not regard the flight as extraordinary. Women have done far more courageous things. I am determined to do or die, but I am going to do’.

Five day, six hours and 40 minutes after she left Lymne she landed at Cape Town. On hearing that she had broken the record, she trilled: ‘How perfectly lovely!’ and added: ‘We could have got here much earlier, but we slowed to 90 mph over gorgeous mountains and admired the magnificent scenery’.

Later even the Osservatore Romano, official organ of the Vatican, which had opposed to the majority of feminine sports, wrote about her and said of a male pilot who soon after attempted to better her record that the gesture was ‘not chivalrous’.

Back in London she returned to the family in Cambridge Square, Bayswater: the lion cubs resided in the cloakroom, but as they grew the maids complained. Not only were they considered potentially dangerous but there were disagreeable odours—despite unsparing applications of eau de cologne—and ineradicable scratches on the parquet floor. Bertram Mills came to the rescue, but he was unable to tame them for his circus so eventually the lions went to a private zoo.

In the Second World War she joined both the WRAAF and the WRNS.

Hugh Salaman [1904-1943]—see also Florence Salaman, above

As a Royal Marine at the end of 1942, Hugh, a member of 40 Commando (T Company) was on board the French steam merchant ship Le Rhin which had been converted and renamed as HMS Fidelity (D 57). She was a Special service vessel, otherwise known as a Q-ship posing as an ordinary merchant vessel and asigned to protect Atlantic convoys from U-boats. However she was attacked and sunk by U-435 on New Year's Eve. There were 369 dead and only 10 survivors.

Isaac Salaman [1792-1892]

I believe that there is a portrait of him by Abraham Solomon, his nephew, and elder brother of Rebecca and Simeon. For information on the Salaman family of painters see the SSRA.

Michel Salaman [1879-1971]

The son of Myer (below), he was painted by Gwen and Augustus John, having been the latter’s best friend at the Slade where he met his future wife Chattie (above): they married in 1904 and made a striking pair, both with red hair, looking more like brother and sister.

Michel was first a day boy at Mill Hill School, near his father’ country house. Later his father’s huge wealth meant that had they so wished none of his children needed to work. Michel and his sister Louise were at the Slade with Augustus and Gwen: the latter seems to have pursued Michel round Europe before she more or less took to the veil. Gwen, in particular, was also close to Michel’s sisters Dorothy, Brenda and Bessie (my grandmother) who were her first patrons. The latter married Herman Cohen.

Gwen’s drawing Portrait Group, from 1897 or 1898 in the University College art collection, shows a student room with a two female and two male figures (Augustus John and Michel). Just visible through the window are two more figures (perhaps Gwen and Ambrose McEvoy). Fellow students were Edna Waugh (later Clark Hall), (Sir) William Orpen.

Michel and (Sir) Albert Rutherston both went to see Gwen John’s first show the day before the private view and were enchanted and moved. ‘It was indeed a chastening joy to stand there among those pale, quiet songs of yours—like listening to the still music of the harpsichord—only there is nothing antique or archaistic about your works they are so intensely modern in all but their peacefulness’, Michel wrote to her. It took him back to their Slade years, with all their aims and hopes; she now seemed to him to be ‘the only one of the eager band who had been utterly faithful to those aspirations who not only had not failed them but achieved more than we dreamt of’. After the Slade they took to the country life, he and Chattie being keen riders, and he was Master of the Exmoor fox hounds from 1906 to 1911.

In the First World War he was in the Devonshire Regiment, the Royal North Devon Hussars, with whom he served at Gallipoli, and the Royal Devonshire Yeomanry rising from Lance Corporal to Major. He also served in France, Palestine and Senussi (an area on the Egyptian/Libyan border north of Siwa).

From Exmoor they moved to Ruckmans, a fifteen bedroom house at Ockley, near Dorking in Surrey with a music-room by Lutyens and then to Wadlington, Sussex, near my granny Bess at Homely Water, Friday’s Hill. I remember Sunday lunches in the Wadlington dining room hung with paintings by the Johns. As a child my father recalls meals, presumably on Exmoor, when the children were exhorted to be quiet with ‘if you keep quiet and sit still you may be forgotten and hear something you shouldn’t’! My father further recalled that they provided me [with] something very near a second home. I cannot remember the Porlock days, but from the description of Dennis [Cohen] and others, they were halcyon. A pleasing and largish house with Michel as Master of Fox Hounds … His success Chattie swore was due to his irrepressible good nature rather than her irreproachable Wake ancestry. The Slade and the Johns and the Will Rothesteins and McEvoys mingled with the hunters and Michel, when not collecting Rowlandsons and Gainsborough drawings and limited editions, was beavering away at his Yeomanry (N Devon Hussars). The 1914 war soon swept all this away and Michel (and Baker—one of his faithful past and future servants—as his batman) served 4 years in the trenches, at the Dardanelles and with Allanby in the Mid-East. He came back marvellously undiminished (except for cash) and Baker was to be with him some 50 years longer.

Anthony Powell remembers Michel as one the most good-natured of men, and to him Ruckmans combined homelife of a most domestic sort with an atmosphere not unlike that of a house-party represented in Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, with its recklessly assorted guests invited by various members of the family.

In his Under Review: Further Writings on Writers, 1946-1990 Powell says ‘A figure referred to intermittently in Michael Holroyd's biography as a friend of John’s, Michel Salaman, deserves rather more description than “art-student turned foxhunter”. He was one of the nicest of men, generous, amusing, eccentric, and great devotee of Augustus John’.

Myer Salaman [1836-96]

My other great-grandfather, the father of 14 children, was the founder of a ‘dynasty’ despite his unexpected death comparatively young.

He was apparently a merchant of great enterprise and judgement, which he not only exhibited, in conjunction with his brother, Nathan, in the ostrich feather business in the City, but also in carrying out remarkable architectural improvements in the rebuilding and lighting of town properties. His country house at Mill Hill was a charming retreat, where, as at Pembridge Crescent previously, he ‘practice[d] a refined and genial hospitality’.

His ancestors are thought to have settled in Britain in the first half of the eighteenth century. He built his father’s ostrich-feather business, Messrs J Solomon and Co, into the largest wholesale concern of its kind in the world, with offices and warehouses at one time in London, Paris, New York, and Buenos Aires and depots in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Durban.

In 1863 he married Sarah Solomon, the ceremony being carried out by the Rev Dr Adler, son of the Chief Rabbi, and himself a future Chief Rabbi. Their children were a most remarkable generation, described by my father as including an FRS, an MFH and a lunatic!

He was drawn by Rebecca Solomon in 1852, by Simeon Solomon in 1869 and painted twice by Abraham Solomon RA, once in old age—all first cousins. When Simeon and a 60-year-old stableman were arrested at a public urinal in London on 11 February 1873 and subsequently charged ‘that they did unlawfully attempt feloniously to commit the abominable Crime of Buggery’ it was Myer who stood bail.

Busts of both Myer and Sarah were sculpted by Sir Thomas Brock RA, who went on to design the Victoria memorial outside Buckingham Palace.

For more information on Myer, the family and trade see Sarah Abrevaya Stein’s Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce (Yale, 2009) and his great-grand-daughter Jane Miller’s Relations (London, 2003).

Redcliffe Nathan Salaman, FRS [1874-1955]

Redcliffe is the first of my Found portraits.

bringing together ‘orphan’ portraits and
Orphan of the Month

Apart from the normal genealogical sources, much of the basic information in the short biographies on this and previous pages is taken from Who was Who, and from The Times. Unsurprisingly, I have also drawn upon the catalogue, The Salamans, a family of painters (1997).