Painter Solomon Joseph Solomon was born into a Jewish family in London, England on 16 September 1860 (his younger sister was the painter Lily Delissa Joseph). He studied in London at Heatherley's Art School (1876) and then at the Royal Academy schools in Paris (under Alexandre Cabanel) and in Munich. After concluding his studies, he travelled widely in Italy, Spain and North Africa, before re-settling in London, where, as a tutor at the Royal Academy, his pupils included the young Alfred Wolmark. During the 1890s he had a studio on Holland Park Road and was part of the Holland Park circle of artists that sprung up around Leighton House in the late 19th century. In 1897 Solomon married, and both his wife, Ella, who often laid out his colours for him, and their three children often posed as his models. He painted numerous informal pictures of his own family life and ‘wedding portraits’ of his relatives.

Celebrated for his historical and biblical works, as well as his society portraiture, in 1906 he became only the second Jewish Royal Academician (his contributions to the annual RA exhibition were hung in what came to be known as Solomon’s corner) and President of the Royal Society of British Artists. An extremely influential figure in Jewish circles, he was a founder and the first President of the Jewish cultural and philanthropic organisation known as the Maccabeans and the main art adviser to its offshoot, the Jewish Education Aid Society, which assisted many of the so-called 'Whitechapel Boys'. His book, ‘The Practice of Oil Painting’, was published in 1910, serving as a guide for both art students and teachers. Solomon also pioneered the technique of camouflage for tanks and army equipment during the First World War, writing the book 'Strategic Camouflage' (published in 1920), as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Engineers. His camouflage system was subsequently used in the Second World War. He also designed a stained-glass window for the Hampstead Synagogue. Solomon was the second President of the Ben Uri Art Society from 1924–26 (succeeding Israel Zangwill). He died at his home at Birchington, Kent, England on 27 July 1927. His work is well represented in UK collections including the British Academy, the Imperial War Museum, Leighton House, the Museum of London, Tate and the Walker Art Gallery.