John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Moonlight, Wharfedale

John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Moonlight, Wharfedale

11/29/2021, 3:41:00 PM
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893): Moonlight, Wharfedale, 1871, oil on card, 44.4 x 34.3 cm (171/2 x 131/2 in.), Private Collection Grimshaw's paintings mostly manage to escape the depressing, then highly polluted northern industrial towns of his time in the UK. Besides his many contemporaries, his close friend, James McNeill Whistler admired his work. He once said: "I considered myself the inventor of nocturnes until I saw Grimmy's moonlight pictures". Grimshaw was inspired by literary figures, particularly Lord Tennyson, by John Ruskin's "Truth to Nature" theories, and by Celtic and Classical legends, which imbued an atmosphere of bygone eras into his contemporary depictions. His landscapes, including the present one, display visually the verbal descriptions found in 19th-century novels, with an abundance of texts dedicated to the night, such as Bleak House by Charles Dickens: "Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes-gone into mourning, one might imagine for the death of the sun... Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great city...".

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