The artist was born in Preston, Lancashire, the fourth son of Thomas and Maria Simpson, cotton mill owners. Coming as he did from a wealthy family, his former homes include Hutton Hall, nr Preston (now a Police Training College) and Uplands, Farncombe, nr Godalming, Surrey (1871). In 1877 he returned to Lancashire to work in his father's mill, and married Edith Anne Burdett from Manchester. By 1888 his home was at Fearnholme, Eastbourne and St George's Club, Hanover Square, London.
He came to St Ives in 1900, living at Belmont Terrace, Ayr, until 1904 when he moved to Riverside, Lelant. In the Census of 1901 he describes himself as living on own means, and it is likely that he had come into his inheritance by this time. Recently discovered photographs to be found in the St Ives Archive, confirm his presence there, and reveal too that the artist William EADIE used him as a model for his painting of St Philip for the Apostle screen at St John in the Fields Church, Halsetown. He rented one of the Porthmeor Studios from the Cowley Estate, and began to show his work at the RCPS in Falmouth.
In 1904 the couple moved to Riverside, Lelant and Simpson exhibited an oil of Niagara Falls and other scenes from around the world, indicating extensive travels in between. In 1908 he exhibited a painting of Niagara Falls again, at the Rochdale Art Gallery and other north American scenes in local exhibitions.
Simpson and his wife left Lelant in 1910 and moved up county to St Cyres, Stratton, near Bude. In his 1911 census return he describes himself as an artist in oils, an ex-master cook, a cotton spinner and manufacturer of Hartford Mills, Preston. Simpson's wife Edith died (as reported in the 12 Sep 1913 issue of St Ives Times) from heart failure while on holiday in Switzerland.
Painter of water-related subjects
works and access
Works incl: Breaking Waves (1900); Sea Breezes (1902): both shown originally at RCPS
St Ives Harbour (signed Simpson) in St Ives Museum; noted for interest in Niagara Falls that he painted several times on visits to the USA
RCPS 1900, 1902
St Ives March 1909
Royal Geographical Society (RGS) 1888
Fellow of Imperial Institute
Royal Historical Society
The Zoological Society
Society of Antiquaries
misc further info
Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p346) [correction rendered here: two separate Percy Simpsons conflated]
Tovey (2009) St Ives (1860-1930)/A Social History