Solomon Nunes Carvalho: Early Jewish Community Pioneer, Artist & Photographer

Solomon Nunes Carvalho

Values Code I – H – E – L – P


Solomon Nunes Carvalho was born in 1815 to a Jewish family of Spanish-Portuguese descent in Charleston, South Carolina.

Solomon Carvalho, self-portrait, 1848, #WS2671-18

He was trained as an artist and later took up the new medium of photography.

In 1853, Carvalho joined John Charles Fremont’s Fifth Expedition to the West as its artist and photographer.

The expedition arrived in Los Angeles in mid-1854.


Los Angeles

Solomon Carvalho took up residence on the second floor of “La Tienda de China,” a building and store owned by two Sephardic Jewish brothers, Samuel K. and Joseph I. Labatt.

Carvalho set up his painting and photography studio on the second floor.

Carvalho and the Labatt brothers were concerned about the absence of an organization for the small Jewish Community.

They established the first non-profit charity organization chartered in Los Angeles: The Hebrew Benevolent Society, today known as the Jewish Family Service.

The Hebrew Benevolent Society had five listed purposes:

  1. A Jewish Cemetery and Burial Society
  2. A Jewish Fraternal Club
  3. Jewish Philanthropy
  4. General Charitable Giving
  5. High Holy Day Services

Once started, in the later months of 1854, Solomon Carvalho made his way back to the East Coast, where he became a well-known artist.

He passed away in 1897.


  • William M. Kramer, “Solomon Nunes Carvalho Helped in Founding the Los Angeles Jewish Community,” Western States Jewish History 28/4; 38/3&4.