Simeon was born as the youngest child of a Jewish family in London; a sister and brother were both painters. While studying at the Royal Academy Schools, Solomon was introduced through Dante Gabriel Rossetti to other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, as well as the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne and the painter Edward Burne-Jones in 1857.
His held exhibitions of his work at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1872. In addition to the literary paintings favoured by the Pre-Raphaelite school, Solomon's subjects often included scenes from the Hebrew Bible and genre paintings depicting Jewish life and rituals. In 1865 he produced illustrations for Swinburne's pornographic novel Lesbia Brandon
In 1873 Solomon was arrested at a public urinal at Stratford Place Mews, off Oxford Street, central London, and fined £100 for attempted sodomy. The following year he was arrested again in Paris, and he was sentenced to three months in prison.
In 1884 he was admitted to the workhouse where he continued painting. In 1905 he died from complications brought on by his alcoholism. He was buried at the Jewish Cemetery, Willesden.
- Peter Horne, Reina Lewis, Outlooks: lesbian and gay sexualities and visual cultures, Routledge, 1996, ISBN 0-415-12468-9, p. 70
- Lesbia Brandon, in which the young Herbert is repeatedly flogged by his teacher, was never finished, and was published after Swinburne's death.
- William A. Peniston, "Pederasts and others: urban culture and sexual identity in nineteenth-century Paris", Haworth gay & lesbian studies, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 1-56023-486-5, pp. 77–78
- http://www.glbtq.com/arts/solomon_s.html Ray Anne Lockard, "Solomon, Simeon" glbtq.com, 2002
- Michael Matthew Kaylor, "Secreted Desires: The Major Uranians: Hopkins, Pater and Wilde", Michael Matthew Kaylor, 2006, ISBN 80-210-4126-9, p. 81
- Jeffrey Merrick, Bryant T Ragan, "Homosexuality in modern France", Studies in the history of sexuality, Oxford University Press US, 1996, ISBN 0-19-509303-8, p. 134