William Simpson (1823-1899)
William Simpson was born in Glasgow in 1823. He had very little formal education, but served an apprenticeship as a lithographer with the engraver David MacFarlane in an architect's office. Two years later he entered a further seven year apprenticeship with the lithographic printers and engravers, Allan & Ferguson.
He attended the Glasgow School of Design from 1845 and sold his first watercolour in 1850. In 1851 he moved to London and worked for the lithographers Day & Son, the leading lithographers of the time. When the Crimean War began in 1854 he was sent to produce on-the-spot sketches for a large illustrated work projected by the publishers Colnaghi & Son. The Seat of War in the East was published in 1855-56, and remains a masterpiece of lithography.
For the next 30 years he reported from all over Europe, Asia and America, sketching the great events and personages of the world. Simpson retired in 1885 and devoted the rest of his life to perfecting a collection of sketches of Glasgow, published posthumously as Glasgow in the Forties (1899).