Herbert Clarke Simpson

Herbert Clarke Simpson

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Watercolor on board, 13.25" wide by 9"  signed and dated lower right

Hebert Clark Simpson, Australian, 1878-1966

"Herbert Clarke Simpson was born at Casino in New South Wales on 30 April 1879, one of the seven children of Herbert Rennie and Lucy Ellen née Foy. He died in Brisbane on 3 April 1966. Simpson was educated at the state school in Casino and worked for several years in the family grocery store before studying art under Godfrey Rivers at the Brisbane Technical College in the first decade of the 20th century. He exhibited with the Queensland Art Society (later named the Royal Queensland Art Society) 1899-1902 and 1920-34 (principally in the early 1920s). Simpson married Emily Chadwick at Kangaroo Point on 16 August 1924 and moved to reside in the Tweed area in about 1926 when their son was born.

His productive career began in 1906 and lasted for some 50 years. Some of his oil paintings are capably executed, such as his romantic vision of a jungle shrouded Dodds Island, Tweed River 1926 (Tweed River Regional Art Gallery collection) but he is most appreciated for his watercolours. His appealing watercolours of familiar subjects in South East Queensland (such as his innumerable studies of Currumbin Rocks) were very popular with locals as well as visitors who sought a more personal souvenir of their stay. Most are of beach settings but occasionally he ventured north to depict subjects such as Dayboro and the Glasshouse Mountains. Simpson made a comfortable living through his art even through the years of the depression and was, probably, the only artist in Queensland to do so. He stated:

'When I began to paint, I reasoned there were three groups of potential purchasers; one small group who can and will pay fancy prices, and intermediate group with a purchase limit of perhaps £10 and the infinitely larger group of the general public which would like to buy pictures, but cannot afford to pay very much. I determined to satisfy the artistic leanings of this larger group.’(1)

This he did successfully. He popularised images of what was to become the Gold Coast well before the development of the mass tourism market after World War II. Simpson sold his work through Brisbane department stores such as McDonnell & East, Finney Isles & Co., McWhirters and Trittons (and also his brother’s photographic studio in Casino) for prices as modest as half a guinea. In later years and in declining circumstances he sold his watercolours at local hostelries. The appeal of his watercolours remains constant in Queensland as evidenced by specialist collectors of his work."

- Design and Art Australia Online https://www.daao.org.au/bio/hc-simpson/