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John Atkinson Grimshaw (Leeds 1836 - 1893)

  • John Atkinson Grimshaw - Liverpool Docks
    John Atkinson Grimshaw Liverpool Docks Signed lower left: Atkinson Grimshaw
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 30 in
    50.8 x 76.2 cm
    Full details
  • John Atkinson Grimshaw - The Last Gleam
    John Atkinson Grimshaw The Last Gleam Signed and dated lower right: 1883+
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 30 in
    50.8 x 76.2 cm
    Full details
  • John Atkinson Grimshaw - The Quiet of the Lake, Roundhay Park
    John Atkinson Grimshaw The Quiet of the Lake, Roundhay Park Signed and dated 1870+
    Oil on card
    8 1/4 x 13 in
    21 x 33 cm
    Full details
  • John Atkinson Grimshaw - Yew Court, Scalby
    John Atkinson Grimshaw Yew Court, Scalby Signed and dated 1877+
    Oil on board
    14 1/8 x 20 1/8 in
    35.9 x 51.1 cm
    Full details

    BM 158

     

    JOHN ATKINSON GRIMSHAW

     1836 - Leeds - 1893

     

    Yew Court, Scalby

     

    Signed and dated lower right: 1877+/Atkinson Grimshaw;

    signed, dated and inscribed “Yew Court”/Scalby/Atkinson Grimshaw/1877 on the reverse

    Oil on board: 14 ⅛ x 20 ⅛ in / 35.9 x 51.1 cm

    Frame size: 23 x 28 ¾ in / 58.4 x 73 cm

     

    Provenance:

    Private collection, North Yorkshire, then by descent

     

    Literature:

    Alexander Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, Phaidon, London, 1988 (reprinted 2000), p. 62

    Jane Sellars (ed.), Atkinson Grimshaw, Painter of Moonlight, exhibition catalogue, The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate in association with The Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, 2011, p. 22

     

     

    John Atkinson Grimshaw first painted Scarborough in 1871, before he and his family settled in the Spa town around 1874, renting a house on the sea-front which he called ‘Castle by the sea’. Alexander Robertson writes of the artist’s second home: ‘…it was to be a place of entertainment, just as Knostrop Hall was in Leeds; according to his daughter Enid’s recollections, George du Maurier, Ellen Terry and J. L. Toole were all guests there.’[1]

    Castle by the Sea was owned by Thomas Jarvis, a wealthy brewer who lived nearby at The Towers and who would become Grimshaw’s second most important patron. Grimshaw painted The Old Gates, Yew Court, Scalby, near Scarborough (private collection), for him in 1874. Writing of the artist’s time in Scarborough, Robertson reveals that the artist ‘…kept a coach and pair so he could visit the surrounding countryside along the coast to Whitby and inland to Forge Valley and Scalby’,[2] which is three miles north-west of Scarborough.

     

    Yew Court, named after its distinctive row of trees, was obviously a favourite subject for the artist, which he painted several times. A larger version of the present work, painted two years earlier, is in the collection of Scarborough Art Gallery and also depicts the house from Station Road with the High Street façade lit by moonlight. Grimshaw painted a young woman admiring flowers in the garden at Yew Court in The Rector’s Garden, Queen of the Lilies, 1877 (Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston).

     

    These peaceful, poetic works of Scarborough’s suburban streets and gardens are distinct from the dramatic events Grimshaw recorded in ‘Burning Off’, a fishing boat at Scarborough, 1877, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, The Burning of the Spa Saloon, Scarborough, 1876, both at Scarborough Art Gallery and In Peril, 1879 at Leeds Art Gallery.

     

     

     

     

    Yew Court, Scalby, near Scarborough, 1875

    Oil on board: 46 x 72 cm

    Scarborough Art Gallery

     

     

    John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Victorian artist who became famous for his sombre views of the dockyards and his nocturnal scenes of urban lanes with leafless trees silhouetted against the moonlight sky.  During his later life, he became a close friend of James McNeill Whistler who admired his work and admitted: ‘I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlight picture.’

     

    Born in Leeds, the son of an ex-policeman, Grimshaw first took up painting while he was employed as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway.  He married his cousin Frances Theodosia Hubbarde in 1858 and by 1861, he had abandoned his job in order to devote all his time to becoming an artist.  In his early work, John Atkinson Grimshaw was influenced by John Ruskin’s creed of ‘truth to nature’ and adopted the detailed Pre-Raphaelite technique of the Leeds painter, John William Inchbold.  He was also fascinated by the relatively new art of photography and may have used a camera obscura in developing his compositions. 

     

    Towards 1865, he renounced this painting style.  He painted many urban scenes in which moonlight and shadows were the most striking features.  The towns and docks that he painted most frequently were Glasgow Liverpool. Leeds, Scarborough, Whitby and London.  These works have become his best known though he also painted landscapes, portraits, interior scenes, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects.  Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons.  He only exhibited five works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1876.

     

    By 1870, Grimshaw had become successful enough to move to Knostrop Old Hall, a seventeenth century mansion about two miles from the centre of Leeds, which featured in many of his paintings.   He rented another home near Scarborough which he called ‘The Castle by the Sea’, towards 1876.  Grimshaw suffered a serious financial disaster in 1879 and had to leave his house at Scarborough.  He moved to London and rented a studio in Chelsea, leaving his family at Knostrop.  He returned to Knostrop, where he died in 1893.  Several of his children, Arthur Grimshaw (1864-1913), Louis H Grimshaw (1870-1944), Wilfred Grimshaw (1871-1937) and Elaine Grimshaw (1877-1970), became painters.

     

     

     

    The work of Grimshaw is represented in the Bradford City Art Gallery, the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, the Gloucester Museum and Art Gallery, the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, the Harrogate Museums and Art Gallery, the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston-upon-Hull, the Huddersfield Art Gallery, Kirklees Metropolitan Council, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, the Leeds City Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery, London, the Scarborough Art Gallery, the Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums, the Pannett Gallery, Whitby, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, the Nelson-Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, the Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in the United States, the Shepparton Art Centre, Welsford, Victoria, Australia and the King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

     

    [1] Alexander Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, op. cit., p. 62.

    [2] Alexander Robertson, ‘Atkinson Grimshaw: Life and Work’, Atkinson Grimshaw, Painter of Moonlight, op. cit., p. 15.

  • John Atkinson Grimshaw - Glasgow Lights
    John Atkinson Grimshaw Glasgow Lights Signed and dated T.17.92
    Oil on canvas
    12 x 18 in
    30.5 x 45.7 cm
    Full details

     

    BM 113

     

    JOHN ATKINSON GRIMSHAW

     1836 - Leeds - 1893

     

    Glasgow Lights

     

    Signed and dated lower right: T.17.92 / Atkinson Grimshaw;

    signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse: Glasgow lights T.17.92 / Atkinson Grimshaw

    Oil on canvas: 12 x 18 in / 30.5 x 45.7 cm

    Frame size: 19 ¾ x 25 ¾ in / 50.2 x 65.4 cm

     

    Provenance:

    W.H. Patterson, London

    Richard Green, London, 1968 [E 661]

    Lord & Lady Soames, acquired from the above in 1968

     

     

    After Liverpool, Glasgow was the most popular setting for Grimshaw’s nocturnal dock scenes.  From 1870 onwards the demand for his moonlight representations of northern industrial towns rapidly increased as the new middle-class industrialists sought to become patrons of contemporary art and simultaneously validate their own profession. Confirming the artist’s love of maritime scenes, Grimshaw’s dock views may have been influenced by J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851) and J.A.M. Whistler (1834-1903), who credited the invention of nocturnes to Grimshaw.  Glasgow Lights is a particularly fine and highly detailed example of this Scottish scene and contains all the characteristics of a successful Grimshaw nocturne; the flickering street lights which highlight wet patches of pavement, a horse-drawn coach travelling down the street and the soft lines of ships’ masts silhouetted against the night sky.

     

    Though a relatively small painting, Grimshaw achieves an incredible sense of depth in this exceptional work, the vast amount of detail, from items in the shop windows to the gritty yet reflective road, rendered with an extremely fine brush, receding with consummate skill into the hazy distance. Grimshaw orchestrates a superb contrast between the bright, inviting lights of the meticulous shop fronts before which the glamorous figures promenade, with the more graphic definition of the mist-covered dock buildings and ships masts along the river Clyde.

     

    John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Victorian artist who became famous for his sombre views of the dockyards and his nocturnal scenes of urban lanes with leafless trees silhouetted against the moonlight sky.  During his later life, he became a close friend of James McNeill Whistler who admired his work and admitted: ‘I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlight picture.’

     

    Born in Leeds, the son of an ex-policeman, Grimshaw first took up painting while he was employed as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway.  He married his cousin Frances Theodosia Hubbarde in 1858 and by 1861, he had abandoned his job in order to devote all his time to becoming an artist.  In his early work, John Atkinson Grimshaw was influenced by John Ruskin’s creed of ‘truth to nature’ and adopted the detailed Pre-Raphaelite technique of the Leeds painter, John William Inchbold.  He was also fascinated by the relatively new art of photography and may have used a camera obscura in developing his compositions. 

     

     

    Towards 1865, he renounced this painting style.  He painted many urban scenes in which moonlight and shadows were the most striking features.  The towns and docks that he painted most frequently were Glasgow Liverpool. Leeds, Scarborough, Whitby and London.  These works have become his best known though he also painted landscapes, portraits, interior scenes, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects.  Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons.  He only exhibited five works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1876.

     

    By 1870, Grimshaw had become successful enough to move to Knostrop Old Hall, a seventeenth century mansion about two miles from the centre of Leeds, which featured in many of his paintings.   He rented another home near Scarborough which he called ‘The Castle by the Sea’, towards 1876.  Grimshaw suffered a serious financial disaster in 1879 and had to leave his house at Scarborough.  He moved to London and rented a studio in Chelsea, leaving his family at Knostrop.  He returned to Knostrop, where he died in 1893.  Several of his children, Arthur Grimshaw (1864-1913), Louis H Grimshaw (1870-1944), Wilfred Grimshaw (1871-1937) and Elaine Grimshaw (1877-1970), became painters.

     

    The work of Grimshaw is represented in the Bradford City Art Gallery, the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, the Gloucester Museum and Art Gallery, the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, the Harrogate Museums and Art Gallery, the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston-upon-Hull, the Huddersfield Art Gallery, Kirklees Metropolitan Council, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, the Leeds City Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery, London, the Scarborough Art Gallery, the Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums, the Pannett Gallery, Whitby, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, the Nelson-Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, the Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in the United States, the Shepparton Art Centre, Welsford, Victoria, Australia and the King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

     

     

     

John Atkinson Grimshaw was a Victorian artist who became famous for his sombre views of the dockyards and his nocturnal scenes of urban lanes with leafless trees silhouetted against the moonlight sky. During his later life, he became a close friend of James McNeill Whistler who admired his work and admitted: ‘I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlight picture.’


Born in Leeds, the son of an ex-policeman, Grimshaw first took up painting while he was employed as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. He married his cousin Frances Theodosia Hubbarde in 1858 and by 1861, he had abandoned his job in order to devote all his time to becoming an artist. In his early work, John Atkinson Grimshaw was influenced by John Ruskin’s creed of ‘truth to nature’ and adopted the detailed Pre-Raphaelite technique of the Leeds painter, John William Inchbold. Grimshaw was also fascinated by the relatively new art of photography and may have used a camera obscura in developing his compositions. Towards 1865, he renounced this painting style. Grimshaw painted many urban scenes in which moonlight and shadows were the most striking features. The towns and docks that he painted most frequently were Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Scarborough, Whitby and London. These works have become Grimshaw’s best known though he also painted landscapes, portraits, interior scenes, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects. Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons. He only exhibited five works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1876.


By 1870, Grimshaw had become successful enough to move to Knostrop Old Hall, a seventeenth century mansion about two miles from the centre of Leeds, which featured in many of his paintings. He rented another home near Scarborough which he called ‘The Castle by the Sea’, towards 1876. Grimshaw suffered a serious financial disaster in 1879 and had to leave his house at Scarborough. He moved to London and rented a studio in Chelsea, leaving his family at Knostrop. He returned to Knostrop, where he died in 1893. Several of his children, Arthur Grimshaw (1864-1913), Louis H Grimshaw (1870-1944), Wilfred Grimshaw (1871-1937) and Elaine Grimshaw (1877-1970), became painters.


The work of John AtkinsonGrimshaw is represented in the Bradford City Art Gallery, the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, the Gloucester Museum and Art Gallery, the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, the Harrogate Museums and Art Gallery, the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston-upon-Hull, the Huddersfield Art Gallery, Kirklees Metropolitan Council, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, the Leeds City Art Gallery, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Guildhall Art Gallery and the Tate Gallery, London, the Scarborough Art Gallery, the Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums, the Pannett Gallery, Whitby, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, the Nelson-Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, the Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in the United States, the Shepparton Art Centre, Welsford, Victoria, Australia and the King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.


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