Australian-born painter Norah Simpson was born on 5 July 1895 in Sydney. She studied under Dattilo Rubbo at his Rowe Street School in 1911 and travelled to London with her parents in 1912. She attended the Westminster Technical Institute where she studied under Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman, and Charles Ginner. She visited Paris and, through introductions to dealers and collectors from Gilman, viewed works by Cézanne, Gauguin, van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso. Simpson collected books and photographs of the work of these artists and, in 1913, returned to Sydney full of enthusiasm for what she had seen in Europe.

Simpson played an important role in providing first-hand information about Post-Impressionism to young Sydney artists such as Grace Cossington Smith , Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin . In 1915, she returned to London and studied with Walter Sickert at the Westminster Technical Institute and also at the school that Gilman and Ginner ran in Soho. In 1919, she lived and worked in Glasgow and was in Paris in 1920. In 1920, Simpson married Edward Richardson Brown and travelled with him to Paris to paint. Following the birth of her son, Donald, she gave up painting and devoted most of her spare time to politics. Sometime before the Second World War she started living with William Henry Cockren whom she married in 1950. Norah Simpson died at Crossways, Instow, North Devon, on 19 February 1974, at the age of 78.

Gray, Dr Anne Note: Head of Australian Art, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
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