Monday, 16 January 2012

Atkinson Grimshaw

You've probably never heard of Atkinson Grimshaw, the Victorian painter. Me neither until a couple of weeks ago when by chance I came upon a review of an exhibition of his work at the Guildhall Gallery in the City of London. He was a self-taught artist who specialised in paintings, mostly of landscapes, which feature sky and, in particular, moonlit sky. He had a very fine knack of capturing luminescence and reflections of light, and of detailed perspective. At the time he was working (1860 to 1893) he was not considered by the cognoscenti to be quite pukkah because he worked from photographs and, occasionally, painted on photographs. But he developed his own techniques and methods of working and he was prolific - at his peak he was producing an average of one painting per week. How he managed to do this and maintain quality is a mystery as he kept no journals or detailed records. Grimshaw did attempt portraits and so forth and although these were adequate, they are nowhere near as good as his moonlit skies or yellow dusks.
The exhibition was very well done, with over sixty paintings from various collections and they even provided a free guided tour. The Guildhall being part of the City of London Corporation reeks of money, and it contains a nice surprise; in the basement of the building are the remains of a Roman amphitheatre found when building commenced in 1988. So its full marks to the Guildhall. Sorry, but the exhibition closed today. Perhaps it will move elsewhere. Meanwhile here's one of Mr Grimshaw's finest.

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