From Railway Clerk To Painter Of Twilight

Like many people, I have this misconception that there were no British painters of any significance between Turner and Francis Bacon.  There was to name but one, John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) who was featured in an exhibition in London in 2011.  An article in The Guardian accompanying the show paints a picture of an artist dogged by the pressure to produce work rapidly in order to pay the bills, keep the family together and in lieu of rent for his various residences.

 Liverpool Quay By Moonlight  1887

Liverpool Quay By Moonlight  1887

His parents actively discouraged his artistic urges by refusing heating in his studio and throwing away his paints.  Proficient in both oils and watercolours, Grimshaw painted thinly (to save money) and used quick drying varnishes.

 Heath Street, Hampstead

Heath Street, Hampstead

Grimshaw emerged from the shadows after a 1979 exhibition of his work at Leeds and he is now one of the most sought after artists of the period  "Another trademark subject, rain-washed streets in views of northern cities and central London, had the bonus of needing a smaller palette. It was shrewd move because a wet road reflects the sky so the same basic colouring can be used."

 Boar Lane, Leeds  1881

Boar Lane, Leeds  1881

Grimshaw had 16 children, 10 of whom died prematurely while 4 became painters (see below). Greatly admired by Whistler, Grimshaw died of tuberculosis and left no journals, papers or letters thus leaving art historians little material to work with.

 Grainger Street, Newcastle  1902                                                                            Louis Grimshaw

Grainger Street, Newcastle  1902                                                                            Louis Grimshaw