The internationally-acclaimed, modern-day war artist Arabella Dorman, was amongst guests at the unveiling of a recently-restored, historic collection of Crimean War prints at Cumberland Lodge, on 17 October 2019.

The rare collection of prints is of watercolours by William Simpson (1823-99), depicting scenes from the Crimean War of 1853-56. It was gifted by Queen Mary in 1947, the year that our educational foundation was founded.

Thanks to the generosity of the late Sir Ronald Hobson KCVO and the Hobson Charitable Trust, the collection has been restored to mark the 90th birthday of our Patron, Her Majesty the Queen.

The restoration work was carried out by Malcolm Leach of Manley Galleries, who also attended the unveiling with his wife Katie.

The Chief Executive of the charity at Cumberland Lodge, Canon Dr Edmund Newell, said, ‘We are immensely grateful to Sir Ronald and Lady Hobson for their generous support of this much-needed project. It is wonderful to see the collection all back together at the Lodge, and we would also like to extend our grateful thanks to Malcolm Leach for restoring them so meticulously and bringing them back to their former glory. 

‘We look forward to welcoming many more people to see the collection in the future, as part of our regular tours and open days, and other public events. They will also be on display for the thousands of students and guests who visit us every year, for conferences, study retreats, meetings and special events’.

About the artist

William Simpson originally dedicated his Crimean War series to Queen Victoria, and he went on to enjoy Royal patronage for the rest of his life.

Born in Glasgow in 1823, Simpson’s early life was one of poverty, but he was to become one of the leading specialist artists of the age, his sketches of various conflicts being published regularly in the illustrated London News.

Although he had prepared sketches of the Battle of the Alma from the accounts of others, it was not until 1854 that he actually went to the Crimea, at the behest of the London art firm Colnaghi’s, to make contemporaneous sketches.

Simpson's vivid watercolour sketches were sent back to lithographers at Day & Son in London, who created the prints now on display at Cumberland Lodge. 

Cumberland Conversation

After the unveiling ceremony in the newly renamed Hobson Corridor at Cumberland Lodge, special guests joined members of the public for an evening Conversation with Arabella Dorman, chaired by Edmund Newell.

Arabella spoke about her life and work, and her first-hand experiences of working in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and with refugees and people affected by war in Palestine, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

Find out more

A video of this Cumberland Conversation will shortly be available to watch on our Read, Watch, Listen webpages.

During Arabella's visit to the Lodge, she also spoke to one of our Cumberland Lodge Fellows, Kristin O'Donnell, in a short podcast about her work as a war artist and the lessons she has learnt. The podcast is available to listen to here.