Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

The Western Union Fleet, Mount's Bay, 1949

Oil on canvas

Charles Simpson

1885 - 1971

One of the later Newlyn School (or Lamorna group), Charles Simpson was also a key figure in the St Ives art colony. He achieved national acclaim for his animal paintings, many of which were used as book illustrations.



Charles Simpson - 1885 - 1971

Born in Camberley, Surrey, Simpson turned to painting when a riding accident prevented him from following a military career. He studied at the School of Painting in Bushey under the animal painter Lucy Kemp-Welch, and later attended the Atelier Julian in Paris (1910).

He was particularly drawn to painting horses, which he developed by working with Alfred Munnings in Norfolk in the early 1900s; it was Munnings who encouraged him to visit Cornwall.

In 1913 Simpson married fellow artist Ruth Alison and initially settled in Newlyn. The family, including their daughter Leonora, later lived for a while at ‘Bodriggy’, Lamorna.

In 1915, Simpson was awarded a gold medal at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Fransisco. Buoyed by this honour, the following year he and Ruth moved to St Ives to set up their own School of Painting, which they ran in Piazza Studios from then until 1924.

On leaving St Ives, they moved to London, but returned to Cornwall in 1931, living for a short while at ‘Duncans’, Lamorna, before settling in the Alverton area of Penzance.

Simpson was particularly known for his paintings of birds and animals, which were both exhibited (including at the Royal Academy) and used as illustrations for books and for magazines such as ‘Country Life’.

For further information see 'Charles Simpson: Painter of Animals and Birds..', John Branfield, published by Sansom & Co.