British, 1823–1899


William Simpson was initially an apprentice lithographic printer and then an apprentice draughtsman. In 1851 he moved to London and was employed to execute views of the Universal Exhibition. In 1854 Simpson went to Crimea where he executed drawings for the Colmagny company, who used them to publish 80 color lithographs. Queen Victoria commissioned him to execute a painting of the Battle of Balaclava, and subsequently to paint a considerable number of watercolors depicting the important events of her reign. In 1859 he went to India and brought back 250 watercolors on the subject of the great uprising, though only 50 of these were reproduced in the album India Ancient and Modern (1867). In 1866 Simpson was employed to execute illustrations for the Illustrated London News. Simpson visited Moscow with the Princess and Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), and in 1868 he accompanied the expedition to Abyssinia. He followed operations during the war of 1870-1871 and spent the period of the Paris Commune in Paris itself. Simpson also followed the Afghanistan war of 1878. Simpson was elected a Member of the Royal Institute in 1874 and frequently took part in its exhibitions. He left a considerable oeuvre.

Museum Collections: 
South African National Gallery, Cape Town
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nice

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Please contact us if you are interested in selling your William Simpson paintings or other artwork from the 19th century and early 20th century.