Stanley Simmonds

(1917-2006)

Following service in the Royal Navy, in 1945  Stanley became a student at the Royal College of Art. His paintings at this time were beautifully executed tonal studies of nudes, still-lives and rural subjects.  On leaving the College he took up a teaching post at Chiselhurst and Sidcup Grammar School while living in Earl’s Court.  In the 1950s Stanley embarked on a remarkable series of paintings of Billingsgate Market. Rising early in the mornings, he executed rapid pencil sketches of the porters and carters, unloading the heavy boxes of fish which formed the basis for these atmospheric paintings such as Billingsgate, Porters.   His work moved  towards an increasingly abstract style, exploring blocks of colour and tonal values.

During the late 1950s and the 1960s Stanley’s career flourished. Like many modern British artists of his generation, he became increasingly attracted to abstraction. This took many forms, some of the canvases dissolve in a luminous atmospheric interpretation of the landscape, others are much more tightly constructed with strong cubist shapes, bold colours and incorporate figurative elements within them. He drew on a wide range of contemporary influences, there are elements of artists like Keith Vaughan and Paul Feiler in these work as well as Graham Sutherland and from further afield Mark Rothko and the Colour Field artists. In the most successful of them like Composition with Figures and The Traveller Stanley forged a vision and style uniquely his own combining abstraction and figuration.

His most famous pupil was the illustrator Quentin Blake.  Stanley  was  widely collected during his life time, showing at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the Whitechapel Art Callery and in group shows with distinguished artists like John Piper, John Bratby, Ivon Hitchens and members of the London Group.  His exhibitions received complimentary reviews by distinguished critics such as  John Hale in Arts News Review and Terrence Mullaly of The Telegraph.  This collection of paintings  comes direct from the artist’s studio.

 

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