Four paintings scoop nearly £0.5 million

Grimshaw's Forge Valley painting which sold at auction for nearly �70,000.
Grimshaw's Forge Valley painting which sold at auction for nearly �70,000.
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Scarborough artist John Atkinson Grimshaw left less than one thousand pounds in his will.

Yet last week, 120 years after his death, four of his oil paintings sold for a total of £432,200 at an auction at Bonhams in London.

They included his 1879 picture, Forge Valley, Hackness, which sold for £68,450.

Before the auction, the painting had been expected to sell for between £40,000 and £60,000.

A spokesman at Bonhams auctioneers said: “During the 1870s, Grimshaw produced a number of paintings of Scarborough and the surrounding countryside, including a number of compositions of the Forge Valley in Hackness.

“Depicting the picturesque Yorkshire landscape in a series of rich autumnal tones, Grimshaw captures the quiet of country life, romanticising rural living.

“The fine observation of the cart tracks on the road and the dramatic shadows cast by the trees, drawing your eye down the country lane, reveals the mastery of Grimshaw’s skill.”

This year marks the 120th anniversary of Grimshaw’s death, at the age of fifty seven, on October 31,1893.

In his will, he left £973 eighteen shillings and sevenpence (or £973.93p in modern money).

The current world auction record for a Grimshaw work is £612,800, the sum paid at Sotheby’s in London on December 14,2006, for his oil painting, Liverpool Custom House and Wapping.

In his book, entitled Atkinson Grimshaw, Alexander Robertson says: “During the second half of the 1870s, Grimshaw rented a house in Scarborough which he called Castle-by-the-sea after Longfellow’s poem. The house is in Mulgrave Place and overlooks North Bay.”

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says: “Scarborough was to become Grimshaw’s favourite subject and he painted its streets and bay more often than any other locality.”

Grimshaw’s Scarborough pictures include: Scarborough Bay; Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, The Burning Of The Spa Saloon, Scarborough 1876; Scarborough From Seats Near The Grand Hotel, 1878; and A Street In Old Scarborough 1877.

Multi millionaire composer, Lord Lloyd Webber, 65, is an admirer and avid collector of Grimshaw’s work and owns at least fourteen Grimshaw oil paintings, although he doesn’t yet own one of the Forge Valley.