Wednesday, 31 May 2006

John Atkinson Grimshaw

Here's one of my favourite Grimshaw paintings: Liverpool from Wapping (1875). Look out for it when you visit Tate Britain. Never heard of him? Not surprising. We Brits have been modestly keeping this great artist under wraps for well over a century. Constable painted idealized English summers. Grimshaw - a Victorian realist - captured the other nine months of the year: cold, bleak, wet; something to escape from rather than to enjoy. His views of a soggy London with horse-drawn cabs evoke thoughts of Sherlock Holmes, not birdsong and butterflies, although he did occasionally descend into the soppy Victorian obsession with fairies. Even his fairy paintings show his passion for capturing subtle light: moonlight, dusk, glowing shop windows reflected by wet pavements. No dazzling meadows with scarlet poppies for our Leeds lad. Unlike the impressionists, Grimshaw embraced the newfangled technology of photography. He is known to have used a camera obscura to project outlines on to canvas. Judging by his paintings, he may well have used his camers obscura to fix details of his views. It seems unlikely he would have sat in the middle of a wet street to make a preliminary sketch. So, a unique artist capturing the beauty of light in urban landscapes, combining traditional techniques with the new. Click the title link to visit Illusions Gallery's Grimshaw page.

6 Comments:

At 31/5/06, Blogger Jacoblog said...

Oh, very nice. Kinda Turner-esque? Actually I like these more than Turner's work. And even more interesting that he used a camera. Not very many did that, or would admit to it, even these days. (If you recall that whole discussion over at ArtNewsBlog on using photographs as reference).

 
At 31/5/06, Blogger weggis said...

I like cold, bleak, wet, I'm a Brit. And I have a Print of The Rain it Raineth Every Day by Norman Garstin [1889] on my wall. No Spanish holidays for me, I head North.
This is now my screensaver, I named the jpeg Streets paved with Gold. It replaced 'Autumn' which came with XP.
May your pixels forever glow with appreciation.

 
At 31/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

I think Grimshaw is better than Turner, but he was self-taught, so the Art Establishment tends to look down on him. Turner was one of the elite, so he gets all the praise.
I remember that discussion on Art News Blog. I threw in Grimshaw, because I believe the argument starts and ends with him, back in the 1880's. He proves the worth of mixing both media.

 
At 31/5/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

Good man. Who needs sun and sand when you can enjoy the Brit. summer in a sou'wester an' wellies.

 
At 1/6/06, Blogger Jacoblog said...

Oh...I love the rain..and thunderstorms. N' I love wearing wellies. I am a Brit at heart. :)

 
At 1/6/06, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

I suppose rain is better than blizzards, but we get those as well in bad winters. Still, we haven't got permafrost in England.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home