Lt. Sydney Noel Simmons (1880-1916)
Figures in an Edwardian interior,
oil on canvas,
20 x 22 inches
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A fascinating snapshot of Edwardian elegance but there is also an enigmatic quality with the languid pose of the dapper young man, the pensive posture of the young lady to his right but, above all, the easily missed face in the overmantel mirror. Could this be a self-portrait of the artist, sneakily captured in a similar vein to Van Eyck in his Arnolfini marriage?
The details of Lieutenant Sydney Noel Simmons' life are sketchy as he tragically died at the age of 35 from wounds sustained at the battle of the Somme in 1916. What is known, is that he regularly exhibited in the years preceding the First World War at the RBA, the New English Art Club, The Whitechapel Art Gallery, The Walker Art Gallery and the Manchester City Art Gallery. Additionally, he showed commercially alongside Sir William Nicholson at the Stafford Gallery and Augustus John at the Chenil Galleries. He had his studio, firstly at Bolton Studios, Chelsea and secondly at the King's Studio on the King's Road. The titles recorded in his exhibition history indicate that he travelled in Spain and North Africa.
There is a great poignancy to these serene snapshots of Edwardian life as they bear such a contrast to the unimaginable horror that the artist would have experienced at the battle of the Somme; such peace and blissful domesticity crystallised before everything was fractured and, in the artist's case, cut tragically short.
These are the only two works that have appeared on the market; there are several paintings recorded in the records of the RBA, NEAC and elsewhere but their whereabouts are unknown.
Other work by the artist on this website.