John Atkinson Grimshaw, born on September 6-th 1836 in Leeds, was a Victorian-era artist, a remarkable and imaginative painter known for his city night-scenes and landscapes. His early paintings were signed “JAG,” “J. A. Grimshaw,” or “John Atkinson Grimshaw,” though he finally settled on “Atkinson Grimshaw.”
In 1861, at the age of 24 he left his first job as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway to become a painter. . He began exhibiting in 1862, under the patronage of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, with paintings mainly of birds, fruit, and blossoms. He became particularly successful in the 1870s and began to rent a second home in Scarborough, which also became a favourite subject.
“Grimshaw’s style and subject matter changed little during his career; he strove constantly to perfect his own very individual vision. He was interested in photography, and sometimes used a camera obscura to project outlines on to oil canvas, enabling him to repeat compositions several times. He also mixed sand and other ingredients with his paint to get the effects he wanted. Although he established no school, Grimshaw’s oil paintings were forged and imitated in his lifetime. Although his moonlit town views are his most popular works, he also painted landscapes, portraits, interiors, fairy pictures and neo-classical subjects.”
Several of his children, Arthur Grimshaw (1864–1913), Louis H Grimshaw (1870–1944), Wilfred Grimshaw (1871–1937) and Elaine Grimshaw (1877–1970), also became painters.