In the late 1870s Grimshaw built himself a house near Scarborough. The local fishing port of Whitby, with its distinctive skyline, became a favourite subject. Whitby Harbour by Moonlight (1867) is reputed to be his first night landscape. It is a panoramic view, both ambitious in scale and meticulous in treatment, looking across towards the swing bridge. On the Esk, Whitby takes a different perspective, with the ruins of Whitby Abbey silhouetted on the middle horizon. (Bram Stoker recognised its eerie portent - 'a most noble ruin, of immense size' - and it figures prominently in his 1897 novel Dracula). The stretch of mud bank in the foreground is unusual within Grimshaw's oeuvre; the picture is also quite impressionistic in style, and especially evocative of his friend James McNeill Whistler's nocturnes.
We are grateful to Alex Robertson for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.