Printmaker, engraver, and miniaturist Solomon (aka Soloman) Polack is the second earliest known Jewish artist (after Johan Zoffany, 1733-1810) to be recognised in Britain. Polack was born into a Jewish family in the Hague, South Holland, The Netherlands in 1757. By 1779 he had immigrated to England and was working in Bath ‘charging two guineas for miniature portraits that could be set in bracelets or rings’. In 1784, Polack collaborated with Jacob Jetz (as Jetz & Polack), in Dublin, Ireland, and in 1787 he engraved the title page (a copy of which is in the British Museum) for a London publication of the Pentateuch and Haftarot, translated by David Levi. Around this date, Polack also painted a watercolour portrait of Lord George Gordon (an engraving by G. Wilson of the portrait is in the British Museum), while the sitter – instigator of the anti-Catholic Gordon riots and latterly, a Jewish convert – was in Newgate prison.
Polack had London addresses on The Strand and at 8 Park Terrace, King’s Road, Chelsea and between 1790 and 1835 he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists. Solomon Polack died at his Chelsea home in London, England on 30 August 1839, aged 78, and is buried in Brompton Road (Fulham) Jewish cemetery. An obituary by Sylvanus Urban (pseud. van Edward Cave.) in the Gentleman's Magazine, Or Monthly Intelligencer (Volume 47) listed him as ‘an eminent artist and continual exhibitor in the Royal Academy during half a century’. Two of his miniatures are in the V&A collection and a further engraving after his Portrait of Robert Bloomfield is in the British Museum.