Monday, September 28, 2009

HIS LEGACY IS BASED ON HIS TOWNSCAPES



John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Leeds painter of landscapes, town views and dockyards, especially at sunset or by moonlight. Born the son of an ex-policeman, Grimshaw first began painting while working as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. He encountered bitter opposition from his parents, but after his marriage in 1858 to Theodosia Hobbarde, a cousin of T.S. Cooper, he was able to devote himself to painting.
(© 2002 - 2009 Ocean's Bridge Group Ltd)


Liverpool Customs House
Oil on board
7 x 15 inches (17.8 x 38.1 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


A Lane In Headingley, Leeds
Oil on board, 1881
15 7/8 x 12 inches (40.5 x 30.5 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Blackman Street, London
Oil on canvas, 1885
30 x 25 inches (76.5 x 63.8 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


By 1870, he was successful enough to rent Knostrop Old Hall, a 17th century mansion near Temple Newsam, which features in many of his pictures. Later in the 70s, he built a house near Scarborough, and in the 80s rented a studio in Chelsea. Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons, and exhibited only 5 works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1886, and one at the Grosvenor Gallery. The towns and docks that he painted most frequently were Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds's, Scarborough, Whitby and London.
(© 2002 - 2009 Ocean's Bridge Group Ltd)


Humber Docks, Hull
Oil on canvas, 1884
17 7/8 x 30 inches (45.7 x 76.2 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Greenock Dock
Oil on canvas
11 3/8 x 17 1/2 inches (29.2 x 44.5 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grimshaw's style and subject matter changed little during his career; he strove constantly to perfect his own very individual vision. He was interested in photography, and sometimes used a camera obscure to project outlines on to canvas, enabling him to repeat compositions several times. He also mixed sand and other ingredients with his paint to get the effects he wanted.
(© 2002 - 2009 Ocean's Bridge Group Ltd)


Stapleton Park near Pontefract
Owner All Paintings


November Afternoon, Stapleton Park
Owner All Paintings


An Autumn Lane
Owner All Paintings


Autumn Gold
Owner All Paintings


A Lane In Headingley, Leeds
Owner All Paintings


An Autumn Idyll
Owner All Paintings


The Turn of the Road
Owner All Paintings


A Wintry Moon
Owner All Paintings


November Moonlight
Owner All Paintings


A Golden Beam
Owner All Paintings


Although he established no school, Grimshaw's pictures were forged and imitated in his lifetime, notably by Wilfred Jenkins and H. Meegan. Although his moonlit town views are his most popular works, he also painted landscapes, portraits, interiors, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects. During his early period he signed "J.A. Grimshaw" but c.1867 dropped the John, and signed himself Atkinson Grimshaw. He usually signed his pictures on the front and the reverse, inscribed with the title. Two of his sons, Arthur and Louis, were also painters.
(© 2002 - 2009 Ocean's Bridge Group Ltd)


Hampstead
Oil on board, 1881
13 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches (34.3 x 44.5 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Old Hall Under Moonlight
Oil on canvas, 1882
15 1/4 x 19 3/8 inches (39 x 49.5 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Lane In Cheshire
Oil on canvas, 1883
20 x 20 inches (50.8 x 50.8 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Wharfedale
Oil on canvas, 1872
24 x 35 3/4 inches (61 x 91 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Stapleton Park near Pontefract
Oil on canvas, 1882
20 x 29 7/8 inches (51 x 76 cm)
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


The Lovers
Oil on canvas
Private collection
This image is courtesy of the Art Renewal Center


Grimshaw's primary influence was the Pre-Raphaelites. True to the Pre-Raphaelite style, he put forth landscapes of accurate color and lighting, and vivid detail. By applying his skill in lighting effects, and unusually careful attention to detail, he was often capable of intricately describing a scene, while strongly conveying its mood. His "paintings of dampened gas-lit streets and misty waterfronts conveyed an eerie warmth as well as alienation in the urban scene." Grimshaw painted more interior scenes, especially in the 1870s, when he worked until the influence of James Tissot and the Aesthetic Movement.
In the 1880s, Grimshaw maintained a London studio in Chelsea, not far from the comparable facility of James Abbott McNeill Whistler. After visiting Grimshaw, Whistler remarked that "I considered myself the inventor of Nocturnes until I saw Grimmy's moonlit pictures." Unlike Whistler's Impressionistic night scenes, however, Grimshaw worked in a realistic vein: "sharply focused, almost photographic," his pictures innovated in applying the tradition of rural moonlight images to the Victorian city, recording "the rain and mist, the puddles and smoky fog of late Victorian industrial England with great poetry."
Grimshaw´s paintings depicted the modern world but managed to escape the depressing, dirty reality of industrial towns. Shipping on the Clyde for instance, a depiction of Glasgow's Victorian docks, is a lyrically beautiful evocation of the industrial era. Grimshaw transcribed the fog and mist so accurately as to capture the chill in the damp air, and the moisture penetrating the heavy clothes of the few figures awake in the misty early morning.
Some artists of Grimshaw's period, both famous and obscure, generated rich documentary records; Vincent Van Gogh and James Smetham are good examples. Others, like Edward Pritchett, left nothing. Grimshaw left behind him no letters, journals, or papers; scholars and critics have little material on which to base their understanding of his life and career.
Grimshaw died 13 October 1893, and is buried in Woodhouse cemetery, Leeds. His reputation rested, and his legacy is probably based on, his townscapes. The second half of the twentieth century saw a major revival of interest in Grimshaw's work, with several important exhibits of his canon.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


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