1836 - 1893
Scalby Road, Scarborough

Oil on panel, signed and dated ‘1874’ bottom left and entitled on reverse
Image size: 14 x 9 inches (35.5 x 22.75 cm)
Hand made gilt frame


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Grimshaw’s popularity, both in his lifetime and again today, was based on the evocative and atmospheric ‘moonlight’ paintings, such as this one, which he perfected during his Scarborough years. Indeed, four typical examples of Atkinson Grimshaw’s Scarborough ‘moonlight’ paintings are in the permanent collection at Scarborough Art Gallery. Grimshaw’s long association with Scarborough began in the mid-1870s, when the artist rented a house in the town – which he named ‘Castle-by-the-sea’ after the Henry Longfellow poem. Scalby Road, the location of this work, was only an hour away from Grimshaw’s home on foot. Unfortunately, in 1879 Grimshaw suffered a serious financial disaster and have to leave his beloved Scarborough and move away from the area.


John Atkinson Grimshaw

John Atkinson Grimshaw was born in Leeds, the son of an ex-policeman. Grimshaw first took up painting while he was employed as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway and by 1861, he had abandoned his job in order to devote all his time to becoming an artist. In his early work, he was influenced by John Ruskin’s creed of ‘truth to nature’ and adopted the detailed Pre-Raphaelite technique of the Leeds painter, John William Inchbold. He was also fascinated by the relatively new art of photography and may have used a camera obscura in developing his compositions.

Towards 1865, Grimshaw painted many urban scenes in which moonlight and shadows were the most striking features. The towns and docks that he painted most frequently were Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Scarborough, Whitby and London. These works have become his best known although he also painted landscapes, portraits, interior scenes, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects. Grimshaw painted mostly for private patrons. He exhibited five works at the Royal Academy in 1874, 1880, 1885 and 1886. He also exhibited at Sir Coutts Lindsay’s Grosvenor Gallery in 1885.

By 1870, Grimshaw had become successful enough to move to Knostrop Old Hall, a seventeenth century mansion about two miles from the centre of Leeds, which featured in many of his paintings. He rented another home near Scarborough which he called ‘The Castle by the Sea’, towards 1876. Grimshaw suffered a serious financial disaster in 1879 and had to leave his house at Scarborough. He moved to London from 1885-87 and rented a studio in Chelsea, leaving his family at Knostrop. He returned to Knostrop, where he died in 1893.

In 1858 at the age of 24 he married his cousin Frances Theodosia Hubbarde.  Several of his children, Arthur Grimshaw (1864-1913), Louis H Grimshaw (1870-1944), Wilfred Grimshaw (1871-1937) and Elaine Grimshaw (1877-1970), became painters.

Museums and Galleries
Tate Britain, London, Bradford City Art Gallery, the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, the Gloucester Museum and Art Gallery, the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, the Harrogate Museums and Art Gallery, the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston-upon-Hull, the Leeds City Art Gallery, the Huddersfield Art Gallery, Kirklees Metropolitan Council, the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the Guildhall Art Gallery, the Scarborough Art Gallery, the Wakefield Art Gallery and Museums, the Pannett Gallery, Whitby, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brest, France, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut, the Nelson-Atkins Gallery, Kansas City, Missouri, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut, the Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island in the United States, the Shepparton Art Centre, Welsford, Victoria, Australia.