Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Simmons, William Henry

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SIMMONS, WILLIAM HENRY (1811–1882), mezzotint engraver, was born on 11 June 1811. He became a pupil of William Finden [q. v.], the line engraver, but eventually he almost entirely abandoned that style of the art for mezzotinto, in which he attained a high degree of excellence. Several of his best known plates are after pictures by Thomas Faed, R.A., and comprise ‘Highland Mary,’ ‘Coming Events,’ ‘Daddie's Coming,’ ‘His only Pair,’ ‘Sunday in the Backwoods,’ ‘The Last of the Clan,’ ‘New Wars to an Old Soldier,’ ‘The Poor, the Poor Man's Friend,’ ‘A Wee Bit Fractious,’ ‘Baith Faither and Mither,’ and ‘Happy as the Day's long.’ After Sir Edwin Landseer he engraved ‘Rustic Beauty’ (the single figure of a girl from the ‘Highland Whisky Still’), ‘Catharine Seyton,’ ‘Odin,’ ‘The Princess Beatrice on Donald,’ ‘Royal Sports’ (the Queen in the Highlands), ‘The Sick Monkey,’ ‘On Trust,’ ‘Balmoral, 1860,’ ‘Queen Victoria’ (an oval), ‘Dominion’ (Van Amburgh and his animals), ‘The Fatal Duel,’ ‘Well-bred Sitters that never say they are bored,’ and the smaller plates of ‘The Sanctuary,’ ‘The Maid and the Magpie,’ and ‘The Taming of the Shrew.’ Other important works by him are ‘The Light of the World’ and ‘Claudio and Isabella,’ after William Holman Hunt; ‘The Proscribed Royalist,’ ‘The Parable of the Lost Piece of Money,’ and ‘Rosalind and Celia,’ after Sir John Everett Millais, bart., P.R.A.; ‘Broken Vows,’ after Philip H. Calderon, R.A.; ‘The Blind Beggar,’ after J. L. Dyckmans; ‘Luff, Boy,’ after James Clarke Hook, R.A.; ‘Hesperus,’ ‘In Memoriam,’ ‘Mors Janua Vitæ,’ and ‘Thy Will be done,’ after Sir Joseph Noel Paton, R.S.A.; ‘The Marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales,’ after W. P. Frith, R.A.; Boswell's Introduction to Dr. Johnson,’ after Eyre Crowe, A.R.A.; ‘Christ weeping over Jerusalem,’ after Sir Charles Lock Eastlake, P.R.A.; ‘An Old Monarch,’ ‘A Humble Servant,’ ‘An Old Pensioner,’ and the small plate of ‘The Horse Fair,’ after Rosa Bonheur; and ‘The Triumph of Christianity over Paganism,’ after Gustave Doré. He engraved also many plates from paintings by Thomas Brooks, Henry O'Neil, A.R.A., George B. O'Neill, George H. Boughton, R.A., Philip R. Morris, A.R.A., Richard Ansdell, R.A., Henry Le Jeune, A.R.A., James Sant, R.A., Frank Stone, A.R.A., Edouard Frère, and others. He left unfinished ‘The Lion at Home,’ after Rosa Bonheur, which was completed by Thomas L. Atkinson. Several of his engravings appeared at the Royal Academy between 1857 and 1882.

Simmons died, after a short illness, at 247 Hampstead Road, London, on 10 June 1882, and was buried in Highgate cemetery.

[Art Journal, 1882, p. 224; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves and Armstrong, 1886–9, ii. 500; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1857–82.]

R. E. G.