John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836 – 1893) was an English Victorian era painter, influenced by the pre-Raphaelites. His works depicted eerie landscapes and moonlit urban scenes from big cities like London, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow.
A self-taught artist from Yorkshire, he gave up his job as a clerk at the Great Northern Railway when he was 24 to pursue painting. Despite indulging in an opulent lifestyle, Grimshaw struggled in debt for much of his life. Scrambling to make ends’ meet, he had to paint a large number of works just to pay the bills and take care of his large family. These limits forced Grimshaw to find new ways of painting faster, discoveries that contributed to the pronounced realism of his night landscapes and gaslit streets.
Boar Lane, Leeds by Lamplight (1881) shows a fashionable avenue in Leeds, glimmering with the lights of the street shops. It’s somewhat one of Grimshaws’ most luminous, if not warmest cityscapes, with an abundance of light coming from the buildings and window shops, reflecting on the cobblestone pavement. The painting buzzes with life, from the people on the sidewalks and street, to the suggestion of life being joyously lived behind the well lit windows.