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ROBERT SIMSON (1687-1768)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 137 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ROBERT SIMSON (1687-1768), Scottish mathematician, the eldest son of John Simson of Kirktonhill in Ayrshire, was born on the 4th of October 1687. He was intended for the church, but the bent of his mind was towards mathematics, and, when a prospect opened of his succeeding to the mathematical chair at the university of Glasgow, he p eceeded to London for further study. After a year in London he returned to Glasgow, and in 1711 was appointed by the university to the professorship of mathematics, an office which he retained until 1761. He died on the 1st of October 1768. Simson's contributions to mathematical knowledge took the form of critical editions and commentaries on the works of the ancient geometers. The first of his published writings is a paper in the Philosophical Transactions (1723, vol. xl. p. 330) on Euclid's Porisms (q.v.). Then followed Sectionum conicarum libri V. (Edinburgh, 1735), a second edition of which, with additions, appeared in 1750. The first three books of this treatise were translated into English, and several times printed as The Elements of the Conic Sections. In 1749 was published Apollonii Pergaei locorum planorum libri II., a restoration of Apollonius's lost treatise, founded on the lemmas given in the seventh book of Pappus's Mathematical Collection. In 1756 appeared, both in Latin and in English, the first edition of his Euclid's Elements. This work, which contained only the first six and the eleventh and twelfth books, and to which in its English version he added the Data in 1762, was for long the standard text of Euclid in England. After his death restorations of Apollonius's treatise De section determinata and of Euclid's treatise De Pori tnatibus were printed for private circulation in R.-SIN 137 1776 at the expense of Earl Stanhope, in a volume with the title Roberti Simson opera quaedam reliqua. The volume contains also dissertations on Logarithms and on the Limits of Quantities and Ratios, and a few problems illustrative of the ancient geometrical analysis. See W. Trail, Life and Writings of Robert Simson (1812); C. Hutton, Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary (1815). SIMSON, WILLIAM (1800-1847), Scottish portrait, landscape and subject painter, was born at Dundee in 1800. He studied under Andrew Wilson at the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, and his early pictures—landscape and marine subjects—found a ready sale. He next turned his attention to figure painting, producing in 1829 the " Twelfth of August," which was followed in 183o by " Sportsmen Regaling " and a " Highland Deer-stalker." In the latter year he was elected a member of the Scottish Academy; and, having acquired some means by portrait-painting, he spent three years in Italy, and on his return in 1838 settled in London, where he exhibited his " Camaldolese monk showing Relics," his " Cimabue and Giotto," his " Dutch Family," and his " Columbus and his Child " at the Convent of Santa Maria la Rabida. He died in London on the 29th of August 1847. Simson is greatest as a landscapist; his " Solway Moss—Sunset," exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy of 1831 and now in the National Gallery, Edinburgh, ranks as one of the finest examples of the early Scottish school of landscape. His elder brother George (1791-1862), portrait-painter, was also a member of the Royal Scottish Academy, and his younger brother David (d. 1874) practised as a landscape-painter.
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