This Ruskinian view represents the culmination of Grimshaw's Pre-Raphaelite phase, dating from the same period as Autumn Glory: The Old Mill, Cheshire (1869, see A. Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, Oxford, 1988, p. 32, no. 22). During the 1860s the artist adhered to Ruskin's precepts of working directly from nature, though he occasionally used his own photographs to aid accuracy. No photograph of Colwith Force is known to exist, but then very few survive in the Grimshaw family album.
Colwith Force is a remarkable waterfall at Little Langdale, Ambleside, Cumbria. The Lake District inspired some of Grimshaw's most notable work in the 1860s. Nab Scar, perhaps his greatest Pre-Raphaelite landscape, was executed in 1864; and another extensive tour of the Lakes was undertaken in 1868, the year before this painting was executed.
We are grateful to Alex Robertson for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.