John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)
Property from a Private American Collection
John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)

A Moonlit Lane

John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)
A Moonlit Lane
signed and dated 'Atkinson Grimshaw 1874' (lower left)
oil on board
21 ½ x 17 1/8 in. (54.6 x 43.5 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 7 June 2007, lot 122.
with Richard Green, London.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner.

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Lot Essay

John Atkinson Grimshaw began painting while he was working as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. When he left his position to pursue painting as a career, he received bitter opposition from his parents, but after his marriage in 1858 to Theodosia Hobbarde he was able to devote himself to his art. Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons, and exhibited only five works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1886, and one at the Grosvenor Gallery. His primary influence was the Pre-Raphaelites and he produced largely autumnal and moonlit landscapes and cityscapes of accurate color, lighting and vivid detail. By applying his skill in lighting effects and unusually careful attention to detail, the artist could convincingly capture both the setting and mood in his paintings. Grimshaw’s haunting depictions of desolate gas-lit streets and misty harbors in and around Yorkshire capture the both the poetic and spiritual bent of the Pre-Raphaelites as well as the isolation of the urban environment that became particularly acute towards the end of the 19th century.
Painted at the height of his career, A Moonlit Lane is a very fine example of Grimshaw's skill at capturing the mood of a still late-autumnal night, the street deserted and quietly bathed in soft moonlight. Alex Robertson refers to the work as 'Grimshaw at his best.' During the 1870s Grimshaw established his reputation as a painter of nocturnes, focusing his attention on capturing the different effects of moonlight filtered through an ever-changing cloudscape on the streets and woods around his home. Whistler, a close friend of the artist, later noted: 'I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes, until I saw Grimmy's moonlight pictures'.

We are grateful to Alex Robertson for confirming the authenticity of this work.

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