The Defence of Kars

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    This work shows an incident of the Crimean War, when a Turkish fortress was defended again Russian Forces. William Simpson, a draughtsman for the lithographic firm of Day and Son, was sent to the Crimea in 1854 by the art dealer and publisher Dominic Colnaghi (1790-1879), to make on-the-spot studies of the war in progress. Simpson sent numerous watercolours back to London to be lithographed by Day and Son and published by Colnaghi. They formed a series of 40 plates titled 'The Seat of War in the East'. The series was a considerable success and earned Simpson the nickname 'Crimean' Simpson. The watercolours were exhibited at Gambert's French Gallery on Pall Mall in London, and later in Manchester and Glasgow. An oil painting by Simpson of this scene, titled 'The Defence of Kars, Anatolia, 1855', is now in Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Birkenhead, Merseyside.

  • 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
    The Defence of Kars
    Convent, Gibraltar (Governor's Residence) collection.
    GAC number