Charles Walter SIMPSON

Charles Walter SIMPSON RI, RBA

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Simpson's published and unpublished writings, family papers, letters and diaries are in the WCAA Collection, as bequeathed by their late daughter, Leonora Simpson.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.



Painter, teacher, author, illustrator of equestrian & animal subjects

works and access

Archival Deposits:  Charles Simpson Archive (WCAA, Penzance)

Access: Blackpool (Grundy Coll); Bournemouth (Russell-Cotes): Derby; Doncaster; Gateshead (Shipley); Harrogate; N (Laing); Newport; Nuneaton; Paisley; Plymouth (City); Sheffield (Mappin); South Shields; Sunderland; Windsor (QMDH)// Christchurch, NZ; Dunedin, NZ; Perth (AG of W Australia)

In Cornwall: Falmouth Art Gallery; Penlee House, Penzance; RCM, Truro: Wheeling Gulls, Glittering Water (c1944); The Pergola


Exhibited: ALP (50); Baillie (46); FIN (317); GI (20); I (8); L (12); NEAC; RA (40); RBA (34); RCA; RHA (26); RI (110); ROI (13); RSA (1);

Solo exhibitions: 1910-2005 (See Branfield for complete list); mixed exhibitions: 1908-1956 (See Branfield);

Painting in Newlyn 1900-1930 (1985);

Now and Then (1996);

Penlee House Gallery (Solo, 2005)

2012: 'Effortless Brushstrokes', Falmouth Art Gallery 11 Feb - 14 Apr


NSA: 1911ff; RBA: 1914; RI; STISA: 1943

misc further info



Personal bibliography

Branfield, John (2005) Charles Simpson,Painter of Animals & Birds, Coastline & Moorland Bristol: Sansom & Co. This book includes Appendices collating his written and illustrated material, paintings in public collections, RA exhibits, and a list of articles written about him. Branfield has also contributed the article about 'The Simpsons' in Hardie 2009, pp109-12.

Simpson Archive: Ruth and Charles Simpson, WCAA. Gifted 2004 by the daughter of the artist.  It contains correspondence, exhibition programmes, books, manuscripts. (Contents listed in Hardie 2009 p125)

Vulliamy, C E (1925) Unknown Cornwall, with illustrations in colour and Black & White by Charles Simpson, RI, ROI (social history with many illustrations)

General bibliography:

Fox, Painting in Newlyn

Hardie 100 Years in Newlyn/Diary

J  Holmes Artistic Tradition;

Johnson & Greutzner;

Messum Now and Then (Cover ill);  

NAG sales records (repr Hardie 2009)

Mallett’s Index;

Newton et al Painting at the Edge;


Public Catalogue Foundation (2007) Cornwall & Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

Tovey (2000) George Fagan Bradshaw - Submariner & Marine Artist, etc. STISA Principal members list p228

Tovey (2003) Creating a Splash (Illus)

Tovey (2010) Sea Change (Illus); 

Wallace (2002) Under the Open Sky

Whybrow (1994) St Ives

Wormleighton A Painter Laureate; Morning Tide

Who’s Who in Art;









Public Catalogue Foundation (2007) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership