Monday, August 13, 2012

Grimshaw, John Atkinson

Reflections on the Thames, Westminster
oil on canvas
76.2 x 127 cm
location unknown

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836 - 1893) was a Victorian-era artist, a "remarkable and imaginative painter" known for his city night-scenes and landscapes. He was born in Leeds. In 1861, at the age of 24, he left his job as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway to become a painter. His primary influence was the Pre-Raphaelites. True to the Pre-Raphaelite style, he created landscapes of accurate color, lighting, vivid detail,and realism.

He painted landscapes that typified seasons or a type of weather; city and suburban street scenes and moonlit views of the docks in London, Leeds, Liverpool, and Glasgow also figured largely in his art. He depicted the contemporary world but eschewed the dirty and depressing aspects of industrial towns. His careful painting and skill in lighting effects meant that he captured both the appearance and the mood of a scene in minute detail.

He died 13 October 1893, and is buried in Woodhouse Hill Cemetery, Hunslet, Leeds. Some artists of Grimshaw's period, like Vincent Van Gogh, left letters and documents recording his work and lives. Grimshaw left behind no letters, journals, or papers; scholars and critics have little material on which to base their understanding of his life and career. His "paintings of dampened gas-lit streets and misty waterfronts conveyed an eerie warmth as well as alienation in the urban scene."