Mist, Moonlight and Melancholy - this post has been sitting in my 'Drafts' waiting to be released in November, a fitting month to show the work of John Atkinson Grimshaw.
I first became aware of his paintings about 25 years ago. He grew up in Leeds, and was at the forefront of a campaign to build an Art Gallery for the city, which after a long struggle eventually opened in 1888.
The opening of the Leeds City Art Gallery from the 'Illustrated London News'.
Leeds City Art Gallery
A Henry Moore sculpture sitting on the parapet; it is hardly surprising as next to the Art Gallery is the Henry Moore Institute which is connected to the Art Gallery by a walkway. Henry Moore was a student at Leeds Art College along with fellow student Barbara Hepworth.
He developed a style of landscapes and townscapes which relied upon very exact observations and which developed into his distinctive moonlit views. He mainly worked and painted in the northern part of England, and also had a great fascination and attraction to all things maritime - ships, sea, and docks.
Grimshaw mostly painted for private patrons, and exhibited only 5 works at the Royal Academy and one at the Grosvenor Gallery, London.
|Blea Tarn At First Light with Langdale Pikes in the distance - Cumbria, The English Lake District|
|A Golden Beam|
An Autumn Idyll
One of the most compelling aspects of Grimshaw's paintings is his ability to evoke a particular atmosphere, often of melancholy. He frequently painted pictures where the main subject is an old building surrounded by trees; sometimes with a lone figure, invariably not a figure in sight, and yet there is a palpable presence in his paintings.
Bowder Stone, Borrowdale - It is just possible to make out a stairway to the top of the stone. This 2000 ton stone, 30 feet high 50 feet across and 90 feet in circumference, rests in a state of delicate balance. It was carried to the English Lake District from Scotland by glaciers during the Ice Age. It possibly gets its name from Balder, son of the Norse God Odin.
Grimshaw died of cancer aged 57 years, and sadly unlike many other artists he left behind no letters, journals, or papers; scholars and critics have little material on which to base their understanding of his life and career.
images courtesy wikipedia/wikipaintings