John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)
Property of an East Coast Collector
John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)

A Wet Moon, Putney Road

John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)
A Wet Moon, Putney Road
signed and dated 'Atkinson Grimshaw 1886+' (lower right); inscribed, signed and dated 'A Wet Moon./(Putney Road.)/Atkinson Grimshaw/1886/+' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
24 x 42 1/8 in. (61 x 107 cm.)
with Ferrers Gallery, London, by 1964.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1965.
London, Ferrers Gallery, Grimshaw, November 1964, no. 23.

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Lot Essay

In the 1880s John Atkinson Grimshaw began to paint scenes in London, particularly views on and around the River Thames. The atmosphere in the capital, with its dense fogs and river mists, particularly attracted the artist. After initially staying at a hotel on Fleet Street, Grimshaw rented a studio at Trafalgar Studios in Manresa Road, Chelsea from 1885 until 1887. His 'London period' became an important one in his oeuvre.
During these years he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and developed a friendship with James McNeill Whistler. Whistler, who also lived in Chelsea, greatly admired Grimshaw’s moonlit scenes and is reputed to have said ‘I thought I had invented the Nocturne, until I saw Grimmy’s moonlights.'
While in London Grimshaw executed both urban and river views, observing contemporary London life. These were painted in the heart of the capital where he painted Piccadilly, Fleet Street, St James’s and The Strand, but also in areas that were more suburban: around Chelsea, Hampstead, Putney, Wandsworth, and Sheen. In the present painting Grimshaw is preoccupied with the effects of differing light sources, both natural and artificial, and reflections on wet surfaces. The detail is remarkable with an intricate tracery of tree branches silhouetted against the misty, moonlit sky. A solitary figure drives a horse and cart along the muddy road while the whole scene is bathed in a sharp clear light. What Grimshaw achieves is a fine sense of atmosphere, poetry, and mood made up of simple components. The enduring fascination of such paintings is their apparent simplicity creating a view back in time, to a golden age that never was.

We are grateful to Alexander Robertson for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.

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