Self Portrait

© the artist's estate. Image credit: Ruth Borchard Collection

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Born in Staffordshire, the son of a coal miner, Simcock was around 23 years old when he painted this self portrait. His is the self-dramatising scowl of a proud, defiant young man. The left side of his face and head are partly shadowed – especially round the enlarged, red-rimmed left eye. His shirt, whose every crease and ‘crevice’ is sharply hewn, also reflects the head’s balancing-out of darks and lights. There is a swirling, Van Goghian aura whose purples, yellows and whites reflect the painting’s perhaps deliberately sickly palette. Simcock suffered recurrent ill-health at this time. From 1949 until about 1955, he periodically attended Stoke-on-Trent School of Art. His attempts to obtain a painting diploma there were apparently sabotaged by the college Head of Painting who disapproved that Simcock ‘spent rather more time sitting on the top of slag-heaps, drawing and painting’ than at lectures.

The Ruth Borchard Collection


Self Portrait




oil on board


H 48 x W 30.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Ruth Borchard as part of the original collection

Work type



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The Ruth Borchard Collection

Greater London England

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