Artist Ottilie Tolansky (née Ethel Pincasovitch) was born into a religiously observant Jewish family in Czernowitz, then in the Northern Bukovinan sector of Austro-Hungary (now Chernivtsi in Western Ukraine) on 30 May 1912. She grew up in Vienna (and always considered herself Austrian) and later in Berlin, where she studied at the progressive Reimann School of Art and then at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. In 1933, following the rise of Nazism in Europe, she moved to England and continued her studies at Manchester Municipal School and, after the end of the Second World War, at Hammersmith School of Art in London. She married the distinguished physicist Prof. Sam Tolansky FRS (1907-1973), whom she depicted in a full-length portrait (Royal Holloway); her commissions also included a portrait of physicist and educator Dame Marjorie Williamson (Royal Holloway). She was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and with many artists' groups including the Women's International Art Club, the New English Art Club, and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. She favoured portraiture (particularly of women), self-portraiture, the nude, elaborate still lifes and flower pieces, executed in an accomplished Impressionistic manner.

Ottilie Tolansky died in London, England on 13 February 1977; the Mall Galleries held a major retrospective of her work in 1979. Her work was included posthumously in exhibitions at Ben Uri Gallery in 1990, 1994 and 2017. She is represented in UK public collections including the Ben Uri Collection, Guildhall Art Gallery, Royal Holloway at the University of London, and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.