John Atkinson Grimshaw was born in Leeds in 1836. His father was a policeman, but he later worked at the Northern Railway Company. John’s parents were strict Baptists and forbade him to draw; his mother once even destroyed all his sketches. In 1852, John began working as a clerk at the Northern Railway Company in Leeds. The city had several art galleries and John could admire the works of famous artists of the time.
He married Theodosia Hobbard in 1858 and decided to devote himself to painting, leaving his job in the company in 1861. His works were sold in two galleries, bookstores and through small sellers.
Grimshaw became popular in Leeds and in 1865 was able to move with his family to a more prestigious part of the city. An experienced London dealer, William Agnew began selling his work. Further success came to Grimshaw after recognition by the Royal Academy of Arts. In 1870 Grimshaw was able to buy Kostrop Hall, a large house of the 17th century, two miles from Leeds, near Newsaam Cathedral, which he often painted. Until the early seventies, Grimshaw's paintings were mainly devoted to landscapes of the surroundings of Leeds and still lifes. Gradually, he began to paint night landscapes of London, Liverpool, Ghoul, Glasgow, including in them the silhouettes of houses and ships. These paintings show fog and smog, common to industrial cities in England. In the summer, the family went to Scarborough, where they rented a castle-on-sea house, as John called him.
The house stood on a hill near Scarborough Castle, from where the northern and southern bays were clearly visible. Life on the shore inspired John to create beautiful works on the sea, ships, docks. He also painted portraits, interiors, fabulous paintings. He improved his particular style of painting. He was interested in photography and even used the Obscura camera to transfer his sketches to canvas. Add added the sand to paints to achieve the desired effect. He did not start his school and during his lifetime his works were copied and forged. Since 1867 the artist began to subscribe to Atkinson Grimshaw but not DA Grimshaw, in the picture itself and on its back.
His wife bore him fifteen children, but only six survived .... His two sons, Arthur and Lewis, were also artists. Grimshaw was constantly exhibited at the Leeds City Art Gallery. Every year his paintings were present in the gallery. Also his works were presented at the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery. Most of his works are in private collections.
John Atkinson Grimshaw died October 31, 1893 from cancer.