Born in London, the artist was the son of an artist and designer, and his mother an opera singer. He trained in art with his father and under the tutelage of Walter SICKERT, finding a main interest in marine art.
He toured English coastal towns before sailing to Australia in 1907, the tour probably being the occasion for his first visit to West Cornwall. Returning to settle permanently in Britain in 1925, the interim had been taken up with painting in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. In 1914 he joined the Australian Imperial Force as a signaller, trained in Egypt, and saw service at Gallipoli.
Shell-shock meant that he was returned to Egypt and then to convalesce in England. He kept a diary and sketchbook all through the experience which was published in 1916 as Crusading at Anzac AD 1915 and portrayed war as the soldier sees it, 'shorn of all its pomp and circumstance.' Throughout he worked to record the Australian participation at Gallipoli in paintings and three of these were bought for the Australian War Memorial Collection. In 1921 he returned to Australia, living in Sydney, working as a commercial artist.
In 1922 he painted in the Trobriand Islands, New Guinea, and then returned permanently to Britain. Silas married Ethel Florence Detheridge in 1927. His most widely known local work is a depiction of the Royal Navy Algerine-class minesweeper, HMS Wave Ashore at St Ives 1952, that broke her moorings at St Ives in a storm during the early hours of 30 September 1952, and kept at the National Maritime Museum, London.
Charles Eyres Simmons was born at Rainham, Kent early in 1872. By 1881 his family had moved to Kingston in Surrey where his father was a coachman. He became a watercolour artist of landscapes, harbour and coastal scenes. He studied under Hubert COOP. Through his career he seems to have moved to many places and has not been found on the 1891 or 1901 census returns. By 1901 he was living at Cardisland, Herefordshire and he married Aimee Emily Swayne in the Weobly RD towards the end of 1901. She had been born in France.
By 1911 he, his wife and sister in law were living at Ruan Minor Churchtown on the Lizard. He later moved to Devon, then the Channel Isles before finally living at Hastings. He died at Hastings early in 1955 aged 83. He exhibited at the Dudley Gallery, Piccadilly and in Liverpool in the period 1902 - 14.
He signed his work Eyres Simmons in a distinctive but difficult to read form. His work is often to be found in the auction houses but is sometimes miscatalogued.
An American from the Boston area (Concord, Massachusetts) who arrived in St Ives in 1887 via Concarneau, and began to exhibit locally and nationally. In 1890 he showed two works at the Dowdeswell Exhibition, and that same year he bravely challenged the Royal Academy on their hanging and selling policies in relation to the paintings they accepted for exhibition.
An account of the conflict is included in Whybrow (St Ives, Portrait of a Colony pp 37-8), and this marked a kind of watershed in the RA hegemony, after which artists began to look around for additional exhibiting spaces for their work. He was married to Vesta S SIMMONS, and their home address was at Trelyon, Halsetown, but the address given for submissions to shows was 23 The Terrace, St Ives, Cornwall - perhaps their working studio. His latest address (Graves 1893) was given as Paris. He died in Baltimore, Maryland.
An overseas British subject, born in Illinois, USA, Vesta Simmons was an artist age 28, with two small children, William (6) and George (4), when living at Halsetown. Her husband was the artist Edward Emerson SIMMONS.
She did exhibit, though not extensively, submitting one figurative subject before 1893 at the GG, and two elsewhere.
Born on 8 May 1885 in Camberley, Surrey, his father was Charles Rudyerd Simpson a Major General, and his mother, Leonora (nee Devas). Initially the artist was educated by a private tutor, and later (1904) attended the Herkomer School at Bushey. In 1910 he was in Paris studying at the Academie Julian.
His first home in West Cornwall was Penzer House, Newlyn, where he resided in 1908. In the period between then and his death in 1971 Walter, as he was known, was to move house and home eleven times, back and forth between the London area and West Cornwall. He married Ruth ALISON and together they led a busy life of teaching, painting and writing, for some years running the St Ives School of Painting.
Simpson's published and unpublished writings, family papers, letters and diaries are in the WCAA Collection, as bequeathed by their late daughter, Leonora Simpson. A full biography of the artist by John BRANFIELD was published in September 2005 by Sansom & Co, to coincide with a major retrospective exhibition at Penlee House.
Walter's own books include: Trencher and Kennel; Emily Bronte; El Rodeo; Composition for Photographers; Animal and Bird Painting; and The Fields of Home for which he provided both the text and the illustrations.
His illustrated works include: The Fellowship of the Horse by S H Goldschmidt; Practical Jumping by J L M Barrett; Old Montreal with pen and pencil; Horseplay for Boys & Girls by John Thorburn; Manners and Mannerisms, A book for fox hunters by Crascredo (Country Life); Son of a Gun by Major Kenneth Dawson; The Gone Away by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe; Wit and Wisdom of the Shires by Major Guy Paget; Unknown Cornwall (numerous colour plates, monochrome and textual vignettes) by C E VULLIAMY; A Pastorale, with foreword & poem by Lady Jane Butler (12 woodcuts); Leicestershire and its Hunts (London: John Lane, Bodley Head 1926); The Harborough Hunt Country (London: John Lane, Bodley Head 1926).
In 2005, the WCAA published a previously unknown manuscript written and illustrated by Charles Simpson, entitled The Country of the Woodlanders, A Wartime Memoir of Hardy's Wessex. This book is available at Penlee House, Penzance, and by order from our On-line Bookroom.
The artist was born in Preston, Lancashire, the fourth son of Thomas and Maria Simpson, cotton mill owners. Coming as he did from a wealthy family, his former homes include Hutton Hall, nr Preston (now a Police Training College) and Uplands, Farncombe, nr Godalming, Surrey (1871). In 1877 he returned to Lancashire to work in his father's mill, and married Edith Anne Burdett from Manchester. By 1888 his home was at Fearnholme, Eastbourne and St George's Club, Hanover Square, London.
He came to St Ives in 1900, living at Belmont Terrace, Ayr, until 1904 when he moved to Riverside, Lelant. In the Census of 1901 he describes himself as living on own means, and it is likely that he had come into his inheritance by this time. Recently discovered photographs to be found in the St Ives Archive, confirm his presence there, and reveal too that the artist William EADIE used him as a model for his painting of St Philip for the Apostle screen at St John in the Fields Church, Halsetown. He rented one of the Porthmeor Studios from the Cowley Estate, and began to show his work at the RCPS in Falmouth.
In 1904 the couple moved to Riverside, Lelant and Simpson exhibited an oil of Niagara Falls and other scenes from around the world, indicating extensive travels in between. In 1908 he exhibited a painting of Niagara Falls again, at the Rochdale Art Gallery and other north American scenes in local exhibitions.
Simpson and his wife left Lelant in 1910 and moved up county to St Cyres, Stratton, near Bude. In his 1911 census return he describes himself as an artist in oils, an ex-master cook, a cotton spinner and manufacturer of Hartford Mills, Preston. Simpson's wife Edith died (as reported in the 12 Sep 1913 issue of St Ives Times) from heart failure while on holiday in Switzerland.
Born in Newcastle, the daughter of Alister and Ada Alison, she studied at the FORBES SCHOOL of Painting, Newlyn (1911-12) and married Charles Walter SIMPSON in 1913. The couple were to live a peripatetic life, living at Polwin House, Newlyn 1913-14 (where their daughter Leonora was born), Carbis Bay (1914-16), Lamorna (1916-18), St Ives (1918-24), London (1924-1931), Lamorna again (1931-45) and Penzance (1946-64).
Ruth's great interest was portrait painting, and she painted several portraits of her fellow women artists, including Ella Louise NAPER and Gertrude HARVEY. Her portrait of artist Frank VER BECK of St Ives is in the collection of the RCM, Truro. She died in Redruth, and is buried at Paul Cemetery.