Executed in 1892, the penultimate year of Grimshaw's life, the present picture is one of a small group that can be seen as the summation of the artist's lifetime, exploring the varying effects of light. With a restricted palette, and wonderfully atmospheric economy of means, a ship is depicted against a horizon, punctuated by the twinkling of distant lights, as the shawl of night is drawn over the sea.
The influence of Grimshaw’s friend and neighbour James McNeil Whistler's Nocturnes has clearly been absorbed, and yet the style remains distinctively his own. So accomplished were Grimshaw's nocturnal scenes, Whistler was heard to remark ‘I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy’s moonlight pictures’.
A similar work by Grimshaw was sold in our King Street rooms as lot 32, Dead calm - on the Mersey on 11 December 2014 for £314,500.