“Simpson” painting fetches nearly $258,000 at auction

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The Horace Moore-Jones painting.
The Horace Moore-Jones painting.

A painting which depicts the legendary exploits of Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey at Gallipoli has been sold in New Zealand for $NZ257,950, including the premium.

The watercolour by Horace Moore-Jones, titled Simpson & His Donkey, went under the hammer at the International Arts Centre in Auckland on Wednesday evening.

The auction house described the work as a highly important, iconic and nationally significant Gallipoli watercolour.

The buyer’s identity has not been revealed.

Moore-Jones was believed to have painted six versions of the work in 1917, with the painting going under the hammer on Wednesday believed to be the last one in private hands.

The painting is named after Simpson, but actually depicts Richard Henderson, of Waihi, New Zealand, who was working as a medic following the death of Simpson.

The work is based on a photograph of Henderson taken by James Jackson, another Kiwi at Gallipoli.

John Simpson Kirkpatrick (centre) with his donkey Duffy carrying a wounded soldier at Gallipoli.
John Simpson Kirkpatrick (centre) with his donkey Duffy carrying a wounded soldier at Gallipoli.

British-born Simpson became the stuff of Australian legend when he used a donkey to ferry wounded soldiers from the frontline back to the beach for evacuation.

The so-called “Man with the donkey” is considered by many to be the quintessential Australian “hero” of Gallipoli.

Simpson, who was 22 at the time of his exploits, lasted little more than three weeks in the conflict before being killed.

The widely told story of Simpson and his donkey is now a mix of fact and legend.

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