Painting

Persian wheel near Amritsar

1864 (made)

Simpson, William

Height: 26.7 cm, Width: 36.9 cm

1170-1869 SSEA

Painting of a Persian water wheel by William Simpson, watercolour on paper, India, 1864.

Persian water wheel being turned by two bullocks.

William Simpson (1823 - 1899) was commissioned to go to India by his employers, Day and Sons, the London lithography firm. Having established his reputation by documenting the Crimean war in 1854, he was instructed to sketch well-known sites in and around Delhi associated with the heavy fighting of 1857. Simpson arrived in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1859 and travelled widely. His rapid pencil drawings formed the preparatory studies for his finished watercolours which were done after his return to London in 1862. His fond memories of India, as noted in his journal, resulted in these highly coloured, evocative and romantic interpretations of the Indian landscape.

Simpson, William (1823-1899). Painter and lithographer. Simpson was apprenticed to a lithographer in Glasgow and in 1851 came to London where he made views of the Great Exhibition. He became well known for his paintings with commissions by Queen Victoria to paint various important events in her reign. In 1859 the publishers, Day and Son, commissioned him to make drawings of India. On his return he produced "India, ancient and modern" (London, 1867), a series of illustrations of the country and its people. Later in 1876, he accompanied the Prince of Wales to India and published "Shikare and Tomasha, a souvenir of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to India" (London, 1876). Historical significance: William Simpson (1823 - 1899) William Simpson was commissioned to go to India by his employers, Day and Sons, the London lithography firm. Having established his reputation by documenting the Crimean war in 1854, he was instructed to sketch well-known sites in and around Delhi associated with the heavy fighting of 1857. Simpson arrived in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1859 and travelled widely. His rapid pencil drawings formed the preparatory studies for his finished watercolours which were done after his return to London in 1862. His fond memories of India, as noted in his journal, resulted in these highly coloured, evocative and romantic interpretations of the Indian landscape. Simpson, a largely self-taught artist from a poor family in Scotland, had hoped to achieve fame on the publication of his paintings in a lavishly illustrated volume. Unfortunately, financial problems led to the poorly printed India Ancient and Modern containing only fifty images. Simpson called it the ‘big disaster’ of his life. The V&A has the single most important collection of watercolours made during Simpson's first expedition to India.

Location: In Storage

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