Atkinson Grimshaw, Painter of Moonlight

One of my favourite coffee table books is my  Alexander Robertson,  illustrated history of Atkinson Grimshaw’s paintings – from his earliest artworks of birds, fruit and flowers to his most famous moonlight paintings, dockyard scenes and cityscapes and the series of faeries.

At 24 years of age John Atkinson Grimshaw gave up his job as a railway clerk with Great Northern Railway to become a painter, but it was another ten years before he became successful in the 1870’s.  This was when he rented Knostrup Old Hall in, Scarborough, the beautiful home which became the subject of many of his most famous moonlight paintings.

I first heard of him when I read Anne Bronte’s ‘Tenant of Wildfell Hall’     and Wilkie Collins ‘Woman In White’ and ‘The Moonstone’


all published by Penguin Classics, they featured paintings on the cover which captured my imagination, and here began my love of the moonlight artworks.


Alexander Robertson’s book has graced my coffee table since the mid 1980’s and I still love it!

These paintings are breathtakingly beautiful, and almost photographic in their detail.  So pretty and so romantic.  I love the colours, the silver moonlight, the golds and the greens.  In the 1800’s city streets were anything but romantic being dirty and far less attractive than the way in which they are depicted by Atkinson Grimshaw.


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