Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Rose Simmonds (1877–1960)

by Keith Bradbury

This article was published:

View Previous Version

Rose Simmonds (1877-1960), photographer, was born on 26 July 1877 at Islington, London, second daughter of Millice Culpin, medical practitioner, and his wife Hannah Louisa, née Muncey. The family migrated to Brisbane about 1891 and Dr Culpin established a practice at Taringa. Rose studied art with Godfrey Rivers at the Brisbane Technical College. On 30 March 1900 in her father's house she married with Baptist forms John Howard Simmonds (d.1955), a 37-year-old stonemason. John kept a photographic record of his commissioned headstones, and maintained a darkroom at home for developing and printing negatives. Rose was soon processing her own photographs, mainly snapshots of her sons.

From about 1927 Mrs Simmonds submitted photographs to the monthly competitions run by the Queensland Camera Club and the Australasian Photo-Review. Although her early entries in Q.C.C. competitions were ranked either first or second in the B-grade section, she quickly won awards in the A-grade division. She was elected to the club's committee in 1928. In May that year her 'Pear Blossom' was placed fourth in a special still-life contest run by the A.P.R. and in the August issue her 'Playground of the Shadows' came first. For twelve years her work regularly won prizes or received special mention in A.P.R. competitions, which attracted entries from such noted photographers as Harold Cazneaux and Max Dupain. The editor commented on her photograph 'Still Life' in 1929: 'this certainly would have had a prize but for the fact that Mrs Simmonds won the competition with another fine print'.

Her photographic interests were those of the pictorialist and her evolving style was guided by the artist's vision. Simmonds regularly attended monthly excursions to locations in south-east Queensland which were conducted by the Q.C.C. to provide members with inspiration and recreation. Through its competitions the club passed judgement on the work produced on these outings. Artists were invited to monthly meetings of the Q.C.C. to speak about accentuation, atmosphere, balance, gradation, genre, subordination, point of interest and suggestiveness. Simmonds's work was grounded in her knowledge of Queensland painting. 'Playground of the Shadows' owed much to the Impressionist style championed by William Grant in the 1920s; her well-known photographs, 'Morning Light on the Sand Dunes' (1930) and 'Last Rays on the Sand Dunes' (c.1940), had an affinity with the paintings of Kenneth Macqueen.

Simmonds's reputation won her selection in national photographic exhibitions, including one run by the Photographic Society of New South Wales in 1932, and another organized by that society, the Professional Photographers' Association of New South Wales and the Sydney Camera Circle in 1938. An associate (1937) of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, she was also represented in an exhibition of pictorial photography held in Adelaide in 1940.

Survived by her two sons, Simmonds died on 3 July 1960 at Auchenflower and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. A collection of her photographs is held by the Queensland Art Gallery.

Select Bibliography

  • B. Hall and J. Mather, Australian Women Photographers 1840-1960 (Melb, 1986)
  • B. Larner, A Complementary Caste (Surfers Paradise, Qld, 1988)
  • Australasian Photo-Review, Sept 1927, May, Aug 1928, May, Aug 1929, May, June, Sept 1930
  • Simmonds file (Queensland Art Gallery Library).

Citation details

Keith Bradbury, 'Simmonds, Rose (1877–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Culpin, Rose

26 July, 1877
London, Middlesex, England


3 July, 1960 (aged 82)
Auchenflower, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.