Thursday, 6 October 2011

Janet Simpson & Dorothea Milde

(c. 1874 - after 1964)
British drawing and graphic artist.
German drawing teacher and graphic artist.
To be clear: these two artists, and their life’s, have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Except I met their acquaintance about the same time, I mentioned them both in the Blog just once and I just happened to see some similarities in their art and life’s. As editor, owner, inspirator and writer of this Blog I decided a combined posting would be a nice undertaking.
Berwick upon River Tweed around 1910

Blog reader Bob Reeves recently stumbled over my youthfull posting on Janet Simpson after investigating this Berwick Bridge etching (left) on his wall. Bob as a “bakers boy” in the ‘60’s  delivered bread at Janet's house in Brenchley's Crooke Lane and has kind memories of her as an old lady occasionally inviting him in for tea and a chat. He was given 8 postcards with her work and this original signed for the occasion etching of the Bridge at Berwick on Tweed in 1964 the year Dorothea Milde passed away. (Above left)

Mid-Crooke cottage  in Brenchley
Dorothea's house in Quedlingburg
Both Janet and Dorothea (probably about the same age) lived their life’s very modestly and unobtrusively in rural and historical  surroundings. Both never were to become real “great or famous” artists. 

And both excelled in the art of drawing. Both were well trained artists, Dorothea at Breslau Kunstakademie and  Janet at Lambeth School of Art and the Royal College of Art.

Both didn't travel extensively and made the local scenery to the subject of their art. From both I have only seen one coloured work. 

Both had to make a living out of their training, skill, art and craft. Dorothea also  teacher at drawing in historical Quedlinburg Girls School. Both had their works edited and distributed as postcards.

Blenchley Highstreet, watercolor
thanks to David Herbert.

Historical Brenchley, Kent
The old Workhouse, Brenchley

Historical Quedlinburg, Harz.

The stairs to the school in historical Münzenberg

Historical Edinburgh by Janet Simspon
thanks to David Herbert

Both becoming obscured and forgotten. Dorothea ended her life in poverty, breeding dogs at no great success. I don’t know about Janet.

Thanks to readers and fellow Bloggers:
Archimandrill (see comments) some more is now known about Janet. In 1901 Janet and her father David Goudie Simpson (b. 1839, an astonomer) and sister Mary Goudy Simpson (b. 1869, and also a painter) in 1901 lived in Camberwell, Denmark Hill, London.

and David herbert sending me the two extra examples within a days after publishing. 


  1. i really appreciate how you always tie an old image to a photo of the same scene.

    but wait!

    are you sure you're not starting with the photos, then turning them into "faux" woodcuts??!!! ;^)

  2. Some people tie wisdom & poetry to old prints too. What way do you start? Thank you Lily, I love the compliment especially comming from you. But there's really no hanky panky or cheeting! Just wish to create a small & finished posting.
    The internet & retirement are great !

  3. The whole tale has something fateful about it that makes it fascinating.

    I see Kenneth Guichard has her down as Miss Simpson and I wonder whether she was the daughter of the etcher Joseph Simpson.


  4. You're right so she pronbably stayed unmarried too. If related at all: sister to Nixon? Nice bridge you made to this interesting artist (trained in Glasgow) maybe more will turn up. It usually does, after a while. Thanks.

  5. I did a bit of poking around on censuses and Google books. In the 1901 census Janet Simpson is listed as aged 27 and living in Camberwell. By By 1904 she was living at 155, Widmore Road, Bromley. The same address is given for David Goudie Simpson, a member of the Royal Astromical Society, in 1911. In 1894 his address had been 199 Camberwell Grove, Denmark Hill. This seems to have been Janet's father. He was born c 1839 and worked in insurance.

    There's also a "Mary G Simpson" of 199 Camberwell Grove who entered competitions in the "Studio" magazine. This must have been Janet's older sister - 32 in the 1901 census, but still described as "Art Student"; no doubt she is the "Mary Goudie Simpson" listed on most of the art price websites.

  6. Thank you for the poking around Archimandrill. Thanks for helping shining some some new light on obscured and forgotten artists like Janet.

  7. Fascinated to discover this site. I knew Janet Simpson quite well when I was a child. She was a charming old lady who lived alone in a small bungalow on the outskirts of Brenchley. My parents lodged with her when first married, in the early 1950s and the bonds of friendship lasted until her death in 1966. I own a number of her etchings (most signed) also the original of the watercolour of Brenchley village you show on the site. A treasured possession full of joyful colours, a place I have fond memories of.

    1. Hello Pam, it is always nice to receive comments even if this posting is from 6 years ago.