A young man is reunited with his relieved family outside the courtroom after being acquitted. The mother of the accused holds up one of his children to greet him and his wife embraces him, while his father thanks the lawyer on the right. In the background, an arched doorway leads outside—a sign of freedom for the innocent man.
Extremely successful during his lifetime, Abraham Solomon represented a major trend of Victorian painting with his contemporary-life genre pictures, the affecting narrative, dramatic, and moral appeal of which resonated powerfully with the popular taste for melodrama. Not Guilty and its pair, Waiting for the Verdict, are fine autograph replicas of his most famous paintings: the courtroom cliffhanger, Waiting for the Verdict, exhibited in 1857, and Not Guilty, which broke the suspense two years later when it was shown in 1859. Contemporary viewers were captivated by the tension and agonizing emotions of Waiting for the Verdict but were somewhat disappointed by the outcome in Not Guilty. However, the pair is among Solomon’s most successful works; numerous prints were sold across the country and the artist was commissioned to paint three sets of replicas.