Fighting in the Embassy Garden, Paris, 23 May 1871

William Simpson (1823 - 1899)

Pen and ink and sepia wash, on paper

  • About the work
    Country: France
    City: Paris
    Place: British Embassy

    The reporter and illustrator for the ‘Illustrated London News’ William Simpson travelled to Paris to record the events of the Bloody Week of 21 to 28 May 1871, when French Government troops suppressed the revolutionary Paris Commune to establish the Third Republic. Simpson made this drawing of the garden of the British Embassy in Paris (now the Ambassador’s Residence), which shows the garden at about three o'clock on the afternoon of 23 May, after Government troops led by Colonel Picquemalle had attacked a barricade erected by Communists on the corner of rue d'Anjou and rue St Honore, and as the body of Picquemalle is brought back through the garden. Simpson’s sketch was later engraved and published in the ‘Illustrated London News’, along with his reports on the dramatic events in Paris.

  • About the artist
    Watercolourist and painter William Simpson was born in Glasgow, the son of a marine engineer and mechanic. He trained as a lithographer under David Macfarlane and later Allan and Ferguson, and also studied at the Glasgow School of Design. In 1851 he moved to London to work for the lithographers Day & Son. He was sent to cover the Crimean War in 1854, after which he became known as ‘Crimean Simpson’. In 1866 he became an artist for the ‘Illustrated London News’, travelling in India, Russia and Afghanistan, and covering several major military campaigns of the 19th century. In 1874 he became a member of the Institute of Painters in Watercolour. He was also an amateur archaeologist and a prolific writer. Simpson died in London, aged 75.
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  • Details
    Fighting in the Embassy Garden, Paris, 23 May 1871
    Pen and ink and sepia wash, on paper
    height: 22.00 cm, width: 35.50 cm
    Purchased from Albert Berthel, February 1937
    ins&dbl; sbc
    Purchased from Albert Berthel 1937
    GAC number