John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893) A scene from Act II, Jane Shore
Lot 79
John Atkinson Grimshaw
(British, 1836-1893)
A scene from Act II, Jane Shore
Sold for £ 18,750 (US$ 23,646) inc. premium

Lot Details
John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893) A scene from Act II, Jane Shore
John Atkinson Grimshaw (British, 1836-1893)
A scene from Act II, Jane Shore
signed and dated '1876+/Atkinson Grimshaw' (lower right)
oil on canvas
61.5 x 92cm (24 3/16 x 36 1/4in).

Footnotes

  • We are grateful to Alexander Robertson for confirming the attribution to John Atkinson Grimshaw on the basis of photographs, and for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.

    Provenance
    Wilson Barrett Collection, UK.
    Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Exhibited
    Leeds City Art Galleries, Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893, 13 October - 10 November 1979, no. 67 (later travelled to Southampton Art Gallery 24 November - 29 December 1979 and Liverpool Walker Art Gallery 12 January - 9 February 1980).
    Harrogate, The Mercer Art Gallery, Atkinson Grimshaw, Painter of Moonlight, 16 April - 4 September 2011 (later travelled to Guildhall Art Gallery, London, 19 September 2011 - 15 January 2012).

    The present lot depicts a scene from Act II of Jane Shore. The play, by W.G. Wills, was produced at the Leeds Amphitheatre in 1875 and 1876. The parts of Henry Shore and his errant wife Jane were played by Wilson Barrett and his wife Caroline Heath, who is seen in the painting returning home after her affair with King Edward IV, only to find that her own child had died. The Barretts were close friends of the Grimshaws and introduced them to many other actors who would often be entertained at the Grimshaws' Leeds home, Knostrop Hall, so giving the artist a certain Bohemian reputation.

    Around the mid-1870s Grimshaw began to produce aesthetic interiors featuring fashionable women at home, in imitation of artists James Tissot and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. His work was also appearing in London exhibitions at the Bond Street gallery of Agnew's which further enhanced his reputation. In 1878 Barrett became the actor manager of the newly opened Grand Theatre in Leeds.

    According to a letter written by the artist's daughter Enid to her brother-in-law circa 1917, this room set from the play had been re-created in the Barretts' own home in Beech Grove, Leeds, but why the artist chose to paint it is not clear as the very subject must have been painful, with three Grimshaw children recently dead from diphtheria. However the artist's new found interest in richly appointed and elegantly furnished rooms was probably an attraction, as was the commission from Barrett who had the painting hung at the Grand Theatre for many years.

    In both landscapes and interiors Grimshaw loved to show different light sources; here, the main figure is illuminated by moonlight shining through the stained glass, while the firelight catches the outlines of the husband and the maid. As in certain other paintings, the central figure is over life size; whether this is just for emphasis or other reasons is unclear. The result is a warm and mysterious interior redolent of comfort and home and very much what the Grimshaws themselves had tried to create in their manorial setting at Knostrop.
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