Valley of Vardan, Caucasus

William Simpson British, Scottish

Not on view

One of Britain’s most intrepid artist-travelers, Simpson was commissioned in 1854 by Colnaghi & Company to cover the Crimean War. Once on site, he sent drawings back to London in the army mail bag to be reproduced as lithographs. After the fall of Sevastopol in 1855, the artist joined a group led by Henry Pelham, 5th duke of Newcastle, and explored Caucasia, between the Black and Caspian Seas. Simpson’s inscriptions on this view of a strikingly steep river valley indicate that he began it on October 19, 1855, but did not finish until 1858, presumably once back in London. In addition to recording the distinctive geography, the artist included details of the local architecture and the dress of Islamic residents.

Valley of Vardan, Caucasus, William Simpson (British, Glasgow, Scotland 1823–1899 London), Watercolor and gouache (bodycolor) over graphite

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