Here we have an artist who wasn’t devoted to the vastness of the American wilderness, but to the cityscapes of the Old World, the UK in particular. John Atkinson Grimshaw, who lived during the reign of Queen Victoria, is considered one of the most renowned painters of that era, as well as one of the best night- and townscape artists of all time, and we happen to agree.
John Atkinson Grimshaw was born on September 6th, 1836, in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. In 1856, he married, and the couple had 15 children, all of whom were named after fictional characters in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Nine of their children died before reaching adulthood, but of the remaining six, four became painters as well.
The landscapes John Atkinson Grimshaw created were realistic, as in, of accurate color and lighting, and vivid detail. Most famous are his moonlit views of city and suburban streets and of the docks in London, Hull, Liverpool and Glasgow. The scenes he painted are eerie, and you expect Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson to appear any minute now, but at the same time the light pouring out of windows onto the wet cobblestones invites you in, and speaks of warmth and comfort.
The moods of the different season also feature prominently in John Atkinson Grimshaw’s paintings. The one below captures beautifully the late afternoon light of mid-fall, around the time when heading home begins to sound like a wonderful idea.
John Atkinson Grimshaw died on October 13th, 1893, and is buried in Leeds General Cemetery, having lived in the Leeds area basically all his life. As a last example of his marvelous paintings, we leave you with this less real, but no less realistic one of the Spirit of the Night.
Featured: Shipping on the Clyde, 1881