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Art in Scotland
William Simson


WILLIAM SIMSON, R.S.A.
Born, 1800; died, 29th August 1847.

This was one of those artists who joined the Scottish Academy in 1830. He was a native of Dundee, and received the rudiments of his art education under Andrew Wilson, at the Trustees' Academy. He began his art career by painting local landscape subjects and sea-pieces, in which he evinced great talent, but soon took to the more lucrative branch of portrait-painting. In 1830 he exhibited at the Royal Academy in London a Shooting-Party, consisting of a group of portraits. His success in this line enabled him to visit Italy five years afterwards, where he spent three years. As a result he exhibited at the Royal Academy a Camaldolese Monk showing the Relics of his Convent; and Cimabue and Giotto, which was purchased by Sir Robert Peel for 150 guineas. He remained in London till his death at Chelsea, exhibiting numerous historical and genre subjects at the Academy and the British Institution. Among his more important works are, Columbus at the Door of the Convent of La Rabida, the Temptation of St Anthony, Baronial Retainers, and Salvator Rosa's first Cartoon on the wall of the Certosa. The Scottish National Gallery contains seven of his works, among which his landscapes show perhaps more promise in that department of art than he afterwards fulfilled as a painter of history. His pictures, although highly finished, well drawn, and good in colour, are at times deficient in strength. Wilkie held his earlier works in high esteem, and probably, had he been spared to enjoy a longer life, might have fulfilled the anticipations of that artist.

His two brothers also practised art with considerable success. David, who died on the 29th March 1874, held a good position as a Scottish landscape-painter; and George, a portrait-painter, who died in 1862.


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