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.