John Atkinson Grimshaw was self-taught and first began painting while at the same time functioning as an agent for the Great Northern Railway. He experienced bitter opposition from his parents with his career choice in art, but after his marriage, he was able to devote himself full time to painting and had his started showing his works in Leeds in the 1860's.
By 1870, he was successful enough to lease a seventeenth-century mansion, perched on a cliff top, overlooking the bays. The move to the coast inspired much of the artist’s most attractive work.
In the 1870's he explored different avenues on a looser painting technique, a mix of classical subject matter like Lawrence Alma-Tadema and historical subjects and contemporary women like Tissot and the Aesthetic Movement, the last combination was particularly successful. But the real achievement around then was the evening scenes the "moonlights" with which he is associated with today. John Atkinson Grimshaw painted commissioned for private art patrons and was not interested in showing his works as he only exhibited 5 works at the Royal Academy between 1874 and 1886 and one at the Grosvenor Gallery.
John Atkinson Grimshaw's style and subject matter changed little during his career, he endeavored to perfect his own singular vision. His interest in photography led him to sometimes use a Camera Obscura which projects images onto the canvas, enabling him to do very accurate architectural drawings. Although he established no art school and gave no lessons, Grimshaw's oil paintings were forged and reproduced in his lifetime.
During the 1880's Grimshaw's continued painting his moonlight oil paintings of the lonely street and dockside scenes, and at the same time, he continued to experiment in other forms, including a looser, almost naive style. Grimshaw's London studio was not far from that of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, one day and after visiting Grimshaw, Whistler said "I considered myself the inventor of Nocturnes until I saw Grimmy's moonlit pictures." who, in an uncommon outbreak of generosity, ceded to John Atkinson Grimshaw priority in the 'moonlight' oil painting genre.
Art Movement: Aestheticism.
Artists Influencing John Atkinson Grimshaw: the Pre-Raphaelites, James Tissot.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.