Solomons, Estella Frances (1882–1968), artist, was born 2 April 1882 at 32 Waterloo Road, Dublin, second among four children of Maurice E. Solomons, optician to the royal family and maker of optical instruments, and Rosa Jane Solomons (née Jacobs) of Hull; the other children were Edwin (b. 1879), Bethel (qv) (b. 1885), and Sophie (b. 1887). Her parents were instrumental in the founding of Adelaide Road synagogue in Dublin. Estella's mother Rosa wrote poetry, and both parents were ardent philanthropists and supporters of numerous good causes. Educated at Miss Wade's School, Morehampton Road, Dublin, and Alexandra College, she enrolled at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art at the age of 16. She proved to be most talented at drawing and was awarded a major prize from the school before she left in 1901. She also attended the Chelsea School of Art in the period 1903–6. The development of her artistic style is said to have been much influenced by her visit to Rembrandt's tercentenary exhibition in 1903. Solomons was briefly a pupil of Walter Osborne (qv) at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, and he is reputed to have influenced her greatly. Among her fellow students were Mary Swanzy (qv), Eva Hamilton (qv), and W. J. Leech (qv), all of whom would go on to become leading Irish artists.
The young Estella was an ardent supporter of the Gaelic and nationalist revival, joined Cumann na mBan c.1918, and was trained by Phyllis Ryan (qv), the future wife of Seán T. O'Kelly (qv). She performed her own curious act of heroism by sheltering in her studio a number of IRA men on the run. She painted the runaways, and although many of the portraits had to be destroyed as they might be incriminating, those that survived were reproduced eventually under the title Estella Solomons: portraits of patriots (1966) by Hilary Pyle. Her work included studies of Austin Clarke (qv), Frank Aiken (qv) when he was chief of staff of the IRA, Padraic Colum (qv), and Fr Michael O'Flanagan (qv). Her portrait of her mother Rosa Solomons was hung in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1910. She was elected an associate of the RHA in July 1925, but it was not until 1966 that Solomons was elected an honorary member. Her work was included in the Academy's annual members’ exhibition every year for sixty years. She also exhibited at her Great Brunswick St. studio in December 1926.
The writer James Stephens (qv) lived in a flat below Solomons's studio, and it became an informal meeting place for other artists and writers. Her work was also included in joint exhibitions with other artists at Mills Hall (1919, with Mary Duncan) and the Arlington Gallery, London (1935, with Louise Jacobs). She forged a reputation as a very talented etcher and illustrated Padraic Colum's The road round Ireland (1926) and D. L. Kelleher's Glamour of Dublin (1928). As her parents were opposed to her marrying outside her faith, it was not until August 1925, when she was 43 and her husband 46, that she married Seumas O'Sullivan (qv) (James Starkey), the editor and founder of the influential literary publication Dublin Magazine. It was a famously happy marriage. Solomons and her husband associated with the key literary and political figures of the day, and the couple's home in Rathfarnham was a meeting place and informal salon for many leading Irish cultural figures. From 1938 until their deaths, the couple lived in Morehampton Road. Estella Solomons died 2 November 1968.