Camille Solon Drawings Collection, MS 106
Muralist and ceramist Camille Solon was born March 27, 1877, in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, a region known for its potteries. A descendant of the Arnoux family, master ceramists in France, Camille was one of nine children born to Louis Marc Solon and Laure Arnoux Solon. Solon's father was an award-winning potter famous for the "pâte-sur-pâte" technique. Many of Camille Solon's siblings became respected artisans as well. Camille studied under his father and in London at the Slade School and University College.
In 1914, at the age of 37, Camille emigrated to California to work with his brother, Albert, on a ceramic therapy program for tuberculosis patients at the Arequipa Sanatorium in Fairfax, California. Under Albert Solon's supervision and with financial support from Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the pottery gained a reputation for producing a wide variety of successful styles and designs.
In 1915, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, the Arequipa Tuberculosis Sanatorium exhibited their ceramic works in the fair's Palace of Education. The Arequipa pottery ceased operation in 1918.
By 1920, Albert Solon and his partner Frank Schemmel formed Solon and Schemmel in San Jose, California, to manufacture wall and floor tiles. Tiles from Solon and Schemmel can be found at William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon estate. It is likely that Camille Solon worked for his brother's tile company during its early years of operation.
Camille Solon was retained by San Simeon's architect, Julia Morgan, to design the mosaics of blue-and-gold Venetian glass tile used in the Roman Pool. During his decade or more in Hearst's employment, Solon also designed and painted the murals in the Gothic Study of Casa Grande, as well as other decorative detail work on the estate.
In the early 1940s, Solon worked with Julia Morgan again to design murals and ceiling decorative details for the Chapel of the Chimes crematorium in Oakland. Other notable Bay Area work of Solon's includes "The Creation," an interior mural in the Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace building at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco.
Solon married Sylvia Wallace, a fellow British immigrant, in 1920. In his later years, Solon suffered from failing eyesight and used a German shepherd guide dog to aid him. Camille Solon passed away in Marin County on Jan. 8, 1960.
- "Artist Solon Dies at 82 After Illness." Marin Independent Journal 9 Jan. 1960: n. p.
- Atkisson, Barbara. "Artist in Hearst's Castle." San Francisco News 25 April 1958: n.p.
- Aviles, Brian A., Philip W. Johnson, and Robert C. Pavlik. Tile & Terracotta In San Luis Obispo County. Healdsburg, CA: The Heritage Foundation, 1996.
- California Death Index, 1940-1997, Ancestry.com
- "Camille Antoine Solon (1878 1960)," Ask ART: The Artists' Bluebook. < http://www.askart.com/askart/s/camille_antoine_solon/camille_antoine_solon.aspx >
- "Camille Solon: San Simeon Muralist Dies." San Francisco Examiner 10 Jan. 1960: Sec 1, pg. 10.
- Commanday, Mary Floris. Camille Antoine (Arnoux) Solon. Piedmont, CA.:
- Commanday, 1989. [self-published]
- Hunter, Stanley Armstrong. Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. San Francisco: Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace, Inc., 1940.
- "M. V. Artist—Solon Decorates Larkspur Altar". Mill Valley Record 10 Jan 1940: n. p.
- Official Guide Book, 1940: Golden Gate International Exposition on San Francisco Bay. San Francisco: The Crocker Company, 1940.
- "Pacific Coast News." [column] The Clay-Worker Feb. 1929: 181.
- Pavlik, Robert C. "The Tile Art of San Simeon." Tile Heritage IV.2 (Winter 1997/1998): 3-11.
- U. S. Census of Population, 1920, 1930, Ancestry.com