Painted in Rome between 1811 and 1812 as a test piece for his second year of residency, it was sent to the Accademia di Belle Arti in Venice as soon as it was finished because, thanks to the good offices of Leopoldo Cicognara, the Accademia had given Hayez a scholarship for his residency in Rome. The painting is, stylistically and typologically, very similar to the canvas depicting Aristides. In his Memorie, the artist remembers it as a work undertaken “from real life”.
The sculptural and powerful figure of Solon, an illustrious Athenian who lived between the seventh and sixth centuries BCE and famous mainly for his historical reform of the state, is testament to Hayez’s awareness of Ancient sculpture as well as his discovery of the Vatican’s Raphael Rooms and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Though the austere and solemn composition is emblematic of the painter’s early Neoclassical phase, he would become the champion of Italian Romanticism only ten years later.