A portrait photograph of Jack Simcock (Credit: jacksimcock.com)
The Rise of Simcock
Jack Simcock was born in 1929 to a mining family in Biddulph, Staffordshire. After attending the Junior Technical School in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent and then working in the drawing office of a coalmining machinery design and manufacturing company, he was conscripted into the army in 1947.
One of the collection of Jack Simcock paintings to be featured in our November Fine Art auction is this oil on board “Farmhouse Under a Heavy Sky”, dated 1959. It has an estimate of £400-£800.
There, he began producing mostly watercolours to sell to friends and family for pocket money. Demobbed in 1949 and having found his calling, Simcock wasted no time in enrolling at Burslem Art School in the same year and began producing oil paintings and sketching in the local area.
His first exhibition in 1956 won attention from Godfrey Pilkington – art dealer, director and co-founder of the Piccadilly Gallery in London – who acquired his paintings. The Piccadilly Gallery became Simcock’s agent for 30 years and he held over 50 solo exhibitions, sold to numerous collectors, the rich and famous, and his work went on to be displayed in public galleries such as the Tate Gallery.
Simcock tended to work quickly, often using just a palette knife and rarely spending more than 8 hours on a piece – yet, he could capture the essence of a place in surprising detail. This oil on board, dated 1966, will be featured with an estimate of £300-£600.
The Original Collectors
Ten Jack Simcock paintings will be featured in our November Fine Art auction and the story behind them is a fascinating one.
Dated 1957 and with an estimate of £300-£600, this oil on board depicting farm buildings will be included within the collection of Jack Simcock artworks to be featured in our November Fine Art auction.
In 1958, Jack Simcock moved from Biddulph to Mow Cop on the Cheshire/Staffordshire border. Just a short distance away, near the local railway station, lived an accountant by the name of William Webster-Bailey who, along with his wife, was a fan of Simcock’s artwork of the local area.
Simcock availed himself of William’s services, and so began a longstanding friendship between the two families. As was his wont, it is believed that he produced the paintings as payment for services rendered. Indeed, Simcock was a consummate barterer and would often use his paintings as payment for all sorts of things, including furnishings, decoration, plumbing and more.
The Webster-Bailey family, as-shown in a 1969 issue of Cheshire Life magazine. (Credit: jacksimcock.com)
During this time, Simcock was also employed as art master, at Lawton Hall Private School in Cheshire. There, one of William’s sons, William Jr, happened to be a pupil and would have been taught by Jack during his attendance.
Upon his father’s death, William Jr inherited the family collection and moved to Narbonne in the south of France. Not being a driver, he had transported them by train in his suitcase, a few at a time. There, they remained, until William Jr himself passed away.
Side-by-side: One of the Jack Simcock paintings to be featured was also shown in the Cheshire Life article, labelled as belonging to the Webster-Bailey family. It carries an auction price estimate of £200-£400.(Article image credit: jacksimcock.com)
It was then that the collection of oil paintings came to the attention of Mrs Johnson, his niece. Already familiar with the artworks from visits to her grandparents’ house, and later to her uncle’s home in Narbonne, it was around this time that she discovered an article in a 1969 issue of Cheshire Life, in which the connection between the Webster-Bailey and Simcock families was explained.
Excursion from France
This oil painting of farmhouse and trees in landscape will be featured in our November Fine Art auction, with an estimate of £500-£1,000.
Now returned from France and consigned to our upcoming November Fine Art auction, the artworks from the Webster-Bailey collection encapsulate Simcock’s signature style. Predominantly displaying the familiar almost-monochrome hues his works are known for, the paintings to be featured include several depictions of farmhouses and farm buildings in bleak, wintry settings. These are supplemented by a pair of similarly-atmospheric landscapes, along with a single portrait.
Also to be featured in our November Fine Art auction, this landscape incorporates a greater use of colour than is typical for most Jack Simcock paintings. It will be offered with an estimate of £250-£500.
The majority of the paintings are marked to the reverse, revealing their dates, which range from 1954 to 1969.
Dated 1958 and a fantastic example of Simcock’s restrained use of colour, this oil painting on board of farm buildings will be featured, estimated at £300-£600.
Together, the images represent a fine opportunity to acquire artworks from a celebrated artist of the local region.
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