AN OIL painting by a world- famous Scarborough artist has been sold at auction in London for almost £400,000.
John Atkinson Grimshaw’s atmospheric 1881 moonlit view of Prince’s Dock, Hull, had been expected to fetch between 200,000 and 300,000 but was eventually snapped up for 397,250 by a mystery bidder.
Leeds-born Grimshaw, who died in 1893 aged 57, moved to Scarborough in the 1870s and rented a second home in the town at Castle by the Sea.
The Scarborough house was built by the artist’s major local patron, the wealthy Scarborough brewer Thomas Jarvis.
The town provided the inspiration for several of Grimshaw’s best-known works including The Burning of the Spa (1876), Lights in the Harbour (1879) and Burning off a Fishing Boat in Scarborough (1877), which are on display in Scarborough Art Gallery.
Grimshaw’s biographer Alexander Robertson said: “During the second half of the 1870s Grimshaw rented a house, overlooking North Bay in Scarborough, which he called Castle-by-the-Sea, after Longfellow’s poem.
“Following the death of three of his children and Mrs Grimshaw pregnant again, a second home at the seaside seemed a sensible move. Then the twins, Lancelot and Elaine, were born in the town which Grimshaw was to paint so often.”
But then disaster struck.
Mr Robertson said: “Quite suddenly, when all seemed to be going so well, Grimshaw is reputed to have faced a financial crisis. Just what this was has never been discovered. It is said that he backed a bill for a friend, who decamped, leaving him to pay the debt.
“Whatever the cause the house at Scarborough, the coach, horses and groom had to be given up.
“After the artist’s return to Leeds from Scarborough there does seem to have been a need to increase his output, either to meet a greater demand or to help pay for the disaster which had overtaken the family.
“Whatever the reason, in some years of the early 1880s, more than 50 dated paintings were produced.”
Grimshaw left less than 1,000 in his will, but the Prince’s Dock painting, which was sold at Sotheby’s, became his fourth most valuable work.
His most valuable painting remains of Liverpool Custom House and Wapping, sold for 612,800 in December 2008, followed by Whitby, which went for 524,000 in July 2007.