John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Sand, Sea and Sky, A

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Sand, Sea and Sky, A

10/28/2021, 5:51:30 PM
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Sand, Sea and Sky, A Summer Phantasy (detail), 1892, oil on paper laid on canvas, 30.5 x 45.5cm. Private collection The nineteenth century saw the birth of mass tourism. By the 1870s it was not unusual for several hundred thousand visitors to be recorded on bank-holidays at the popular resorts of Brighton Scarborough or Ramsgate. By the end of the century visits to the seaside were popular with all but the most poor and made possible with the expansion of the railways. It was an opportunity to be seen and admired, to observe and be observed and the clothes worn by the adults that now seem so incongruous to us demonstrate that for the nineteenth century visitor to the seaside it was important to be seen in your finest clothes whether comfortable or not. Thought to be unique in Grimshaw’s oeuvre, 'A Summer Phantasy' is a remarkable painting almost certainly painted on the sands of the artist’s beloved Scarborough. The minute detail demonstrates a level of technical skill that is exceptional with each grouping of figures given characterisation and individuality. In the foreground on the right is a young family, the daughter holding the hand of her mother whilst her father holds binoculars to his eyes to look out to sea. The elegance of the family is reflected in the woman’s fashionable hat and parasol and the gentleman’s blue and black striped blazer. "Grimshaw has created here something uniquely personal and uniquely original. Who would have guessed that the painter of moonlight, and grimy Docks, could paint like this? Like all great artists Grimshaw never ceases to surprise." (Richard Green) (Sotheby's)

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