Simpkinson de Wesselow (1819-1906)

Pastels from a collection of Wesselow’s work executed between 1860 and 1874.

Wesselow, the son of a successful Q.C. and nephew of Sir John Franklin, had an interesting and distinguished naval career between 1832 and 1855, including two years with Captain Belcher during his seven year surveying trip around the world, service in the China War and a a surveyor at the magnetic observatory on Van Diemen’s Land. Watercolours by him of Van Diemen’s Land are in the collections of the Royal Society of Tasmania and in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. He exhibited on 6th January 1845 at the Legislative Council Chambers in what was the first public exhibition of paintings in Australia.

Following his return to England in 1849 he married in 1858 and lived much of the time in Cannes. These little pastel studies show how concerned he was to observe and capture the subtleties of dawn and dusk, and at a time when light and colour were in the forefront of artistic interest.

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