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Arthur E. Grimshaw - Hull docks by night

Arthur E. Grimshaw

Hull docks by night

Oil on canvas: 11(h) x 18.1(w) in / 27.9(h) x 46(w) cm
Signed and dated lower right: Arthur E. Grimshaw. 1895

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1868 - Leeds - 1913

Ref: CA 219


Hull docks by night




Signed and dated lower right: Arthur E. Grimshaw. 1895

Oil on canvas: 11 x 18 ⅛ in / 27.9 x 46 cm

Frame size: 16 ½ x 23 ¾ in / 41.9 x 60.3 cm






Private collection

Christie’s London, 23rd November 1983, lot 124;

private collection, acquired from the above

Sotheby’s London, 25th November 2004, lot 308;

private collection, UK, acquired from the above

Richard Green, London



Hull docks by moonlight looks towards the distinctive skyline of Hull Dock Offices and the Wilberforce monument from the west of the city, their waning  representation throwing the foreground into relief. Arthur Grimshaw beautifully balances the lit shop windows on the left with light from the dock sheds along the quay to the right, dock workers still carrying goods off the boats and into storage despite the late hour of the day. The wide, wet road, in the manner of his father, is brilliantly illuminated by multiple light sources, its intricate, geometric pattern recording the bustling trade of the docks, the gas-lit commerce and the soft glow of the mist-covered moon.   


Arthur Grimshaw was the eldest child of John Atkinson and Frances Theodosia Grimshaw and like several of his siblings, inherited his father’s artistic talent. Atkinson taught his children painting and was anxious for them all to join his profession. Though Arthur had great skill, his main passion and vocation was music, which explains the relatively small number of paintings by him dating between 1890-1900. Jane Abdy writes, ‘he ran away from home at the age of seventeen to join an orchestra, and two years later became organist of St Anne’s Church, Leeds, a post he held until his death.’[1] Though Abdy suggests Arthur was later reconciled with his parents, more recently, Jane Sellars writes of Atkinson: ‘He could never quite forgive Arthur for choosing music above painting, although Enid was not quite so maligned for her choice of singing as a career. Louis became a painter and so did Elaine.’[2]


Arthur is recorded as the first Organist and Master of the Choristers of Leeds Cathedral, appointed in 1883 at the age of eighteen and remaining in the post for thirty years.[3] He also wrote and published compositions including a string quartet, a symphony, English folk melodies,[4] and several songs including ‘Twilight time’ and ‘Cradle song,’[5] as well as arranging orchestral pieces by Mr Edward German for the pianoforte at the composer’s request. Local newspaper articles reveal he lectured on Debussy at the Yorkshire Branch of the Incorporated Society of Musicians. Arthur’s numerous roles in the cultural life of Leeds at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century were frequently noted in the local press when he went missing just before his death in 1913.[6] Arthur Grimshaw’s The Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1895, is in the collection of the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle.

[1] Jane Abdy, ‘Atkinson Grimshaw’s Family’, Atkinson Grimshaw, exh. cat., Alexander Gallery, London, 1976, p.25. See   

  also Alexander Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, Phaidon, London, reprinted 2012, p.123.

[2] Jane Sellars, ‘The girl with the umbrella’, Atkinson Grimshaw: Painter of Moonlight, exh. cat., Mercer Art Gallery,

  Harrogate, 2011, p.69.


[4] Breitkopf and Hartel published 2 vols of ‘Old English Tunes: Ballad-tunes and Dances of the 16th and 17th

  Centuries’, harmonized by Mr Arthur E Grimshaw, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 18th June 1913.

[5] ‘Some new music’, London Evening Standard, 30th December 1897, p.6.

[6] Lancashire Evening Post, 4th August 1913, p.2. ‘The Hawksworth Moor Tragedy’, Leeds Mercury, 4th August, p.3

Other Works By
Arthur E. Grimshaw:

Arthur E. Grimshaw - Prince's Landing Stage, Liverpool Arthur E. Grimshaw - Glasgow - Night


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