Sunday, June 4, 2017

Echidna by Sidney H. Sime

Sidney H. Sime was a later Victorian early Edwardian British artist, 1867-1941.
Sime was born in Manchester in poverty. After a five-year career in the mines, including as a "scoop pusher," work at a linen shop, a barbers, and as a signwriter (setting up in his own right), he studied at the Liverpool School of Art.


Sime quickly became famous for drawings and illustrations with fantastic themes, with a presence in Pick-Me-Up, The Idler and the Pall Mall Gazette. The fantastic treatment often masked biting satire, especially aimed at the rich and at politicians.

He received an inheritance after an uncle died and bought The Idler, but sold out within two years.


In 1904, Sime was approached by the author for whom he is most often remembered, the Irish Lord Dunsany, to illustrate his first book, The Gods of Pegana, finally published in 1905. This began an association which lasted for the rest of his life, with his illustrations especially prominent in Dunsany's earlier work (until c. 1922). For one volume, at least some of the stories were inspired by Sime works (The Book of Wonder), and for three, in special limited editions, each plate of illustration was signed by the artist.

Sime, who had produced a play with limited success in 1905, did both scenery and costume work for a number of productions, and had exhibitions in 1923 and 1927. In his later years, he produced less work but more in colour, his earlier work having been almost exclusively monochrome.

Sime also contributed frontispieces to The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson and The House of Souls by Arthur Machen. Sime died in 1941, and his widow Mary preserved many of his remaining works, which on her death were willed to form the Sime Memorial Gallery, then and still in Worplesdon near Guildford.
The Sime Memorial Gallery has a charming short video.

In my late teens, living off-and-on in England, I used to frequent antique stores, mostly for books. Occasionally I would buy art pieces as well. I am no connoisseur but have a basic eye for style. One piece I purchased for somewhere between 50p and a pound was a very distinctive fantasy water color (I believe) by a S.H. Sime, inscribed on the back as "Echidna" 1928 and indicating it was painted at Worplesdon, Surrey. That wasn't too surprising as I lived in Woking, the next town over from Worplesdon.

I simply liked the picture, I had no idea of its possible value or provenance. This was long before the internet.

In clearing out some stored materials, stored for more than a dozen years, I came across Echidna and of course immediately looked up Sime and found the information above.

Fascinating on two fronts. It is indeed by a named artist and not simply a local amateur and second because of the difference that a dozen years makes, basically being pre- and post-internet. Answers that could not be easily obtained are now answered instantaneously with only the barest minimum of knowledge. We have come a long way quickly.

Echidna by Sidney H. Sime, 1928
Double click to enlarge.

No comments:

Post a Comment