John Bell Simpson,” by F. W. Pomeroy

The bust of Simpson, which was unveiled in 1923, now appears prominently the foyer of the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University. A notice in the Times of 28 November 1923 records its unveiling: "yesterday unveiled at Armstrong College, Newcastle, a statuette of King Edward VII., the gift of Dr John Bell Simpson, of Bindley Hall, Wylam, and one of Dr Simpson, the gift of his son, Colonel F. R. Simpson, as a memorial to his father's work in building up the College of Science" (9).

Simpson had been a leading figure in the development of the mining industry in this part of England; he was also a Justice of the Peace. This is a wonderful quite unsentimental portrait of him in contemporary dress with tabs and gown, suggesting his official dignity and gravitas, and also more than a touch of world-worn melancholy. As Benedict Read has pointed out, such portrait busts were "a staple source of income" for sculptors (171), and Pomeroy was no exception here, placing more reliance on such commissions as the arts and crafts movement waned (see Stocker). This late, naturalistic bust of the elderly Simpson, however, is not at all a "bread and butter" effort.

Thanks to the Hatton Gallery for allowing photography in its foyer. Photographs and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, who also digitally removed the distracting background of the work. The images may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]


Stocker, Mark. "Pomeroy, Frederick William (1856-1924)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 11 July 2014.

Last modified 11 July 2014