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Work of the Week | 19 September 2022

CAG.213 Estella Solomons, Self-Portrait, undated (reprint from original plate, 1973), etching (16/50), 7.4 x 12.5 cm. Presented, Dr J.B. Kearney. © the artist’s estate.


Offering a window into her printmaking practice, Self-Portrait by Estella Solomons is meditative image of the artist lost in thought.

This etching is part of a memorial edition issued in 1973, five years after Solomons’ death. It presents the artist in a seated pose, large book open on her lap, with a window or doorway giving onto a garden and rooftop in the background.

Dublin-born Estella Solomons (1882-1968) was an important figure in the Irish art scene but was also deeply political. She joined the Ranelagh branch of Cumann na mBan around 1918 and offered her studio as a safe house to Republican volunteers during the Irish Civil War.

In 1926, Solomons married the poet and editor Seumas O’Sullivan (1879-1958), founder of the literary journal The Dublin Magazine. Her parents – who had been instrumental in founding the Adelaide Road synagogue in Dublin – opposed their marriage as O’Sullivan was not Jewish.

Elected as an honorary member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1966, Solomons had shown work in their annual exhibition for the previous sixty years. She was also a teacher and among her students was Dolly Robinson (1901-1977) who became a set designer at the Abbey Theatre.

The artist’s work is currently being celebrated in ESTELLA SOLOMONS: Still Moments, an exhibition curated by Niamh McNally, which runs at the National Gallery of Ireland until 8 January 2023.

Self-Portrait by Estella Solomons is featured in AS THEY MUST HAVE BEEN: Men of the South, 1922-2022, which must close at 4pm, Sunday 25 September.

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