Sir James Young Simpson

Sir James Young Simpson

William Brodie, RSA (1815-1881)

1876; unveiled 1877

Bronze on a freestone plinth (also designed by the sculptor)

West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Sir James Young Simpson was a man of great presence: he had strong facial features, with a wide forehead and long thick hair, keen eyes and broad but sensitive hands: "To see him was to see one of the sights of modern Athens" (Gordon 145). Brodie captures him well in this characterful, larger-than-life seated sculpture, showing him in his academic robes, "as if in act of addressing students" (qtd. in "Historic Scotland"). Simpson was a keen and active antiquarian, and the book he holds may be the same one shown in Norman Macbeth's 1871 portrait of him: a copy of the 1597 edition of the Gynaeciorum, a classic text on the treatment of women. This was known to be in his possession "at some stage" (King 155-6).

  • Close-up of Simpson