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William Simpson (1823-1899)

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William Simpson (1823-1899)

Figures at a shrine, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg

Details
William Simpson (1823-1899) Figures at a shrine, St Isaac's Cathedral, St Petersburg signed and dated 'Wm Simpson./1875' (lower right) and further inscribed 'St. Isaak's [sic], St Petersburgh [sic].' (lower left) pencil and watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour 7 x 5 in. (17.8 x 12.8 cm.)
Literature
W. Simpson, Picturesque People, London, 1876 (unpaginated).
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Lot Essay

Simpson was employed by the Illustrated London News shortly after his previous firm, Day & Son, went bankrupt in 1866. One of his first jobs for the News took him to Russia in the entourage of the Prince of Wales, whose sister-in-law the Princess Dagmar married the Czarevich in St Petersburg on 9 November 1866. The present watercolour almost certainly derives from a sketch made by Simpson during his visit, and was probably (like lot 80) painted especially for inclusion in Picturesque People, which was published a year after this picture was finished. Beside the printed illustration, Simpson describes the piety of the Russian people, who 'give manifest evidence of their devotion by falling on their knees and kissing the sacred objects.'

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