Rare Grimshaw watercolour comes home to Leeds

Caption: 'View of Leeds from Woodhouse Ridge' by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1868 (image courtesy of Leeds museums and galleries collection)

A rare watercolour painting by famed Leeds artist John Atkinson Grimshaw not seen in the city for more than 30 years has returned home after being secured at auction.

The city landscape entitled ‘View of Leeds from Woodhouse Ridge’ was produced by Grimshaw in 1868 showing the view from Batty’s Wood in Woodhouse, and depicts a Victorian cityscape in the style he was to become renowned for.

The painting was last on public display in Leeds in 1979, but it can now been seen at Leeds Art Gallery after Leeds City Council, the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, Leeds Art Fund, Friends of Leeds City Museums, Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and the Richard Green Gallery provided a combined £31,000 funding to secure it at auction.

The watercolour itself is rare as there are only a handful of known watercolours ever produced by Grimshaw (1836-1893), and it joins two others - ‘Still-Life with Bird’s Nest’ from 1862 and ‘On the Tees, near Barnard Castle’ from circa 1868 - among the 24 works by Grimshaw held in the Leeds museums and galleries collection.

The painting shows the view from Batty’s Wood looking towards St Chad’s Church in Headingley, which can be seen in the distance, and was made just a short walk from Grimshaw’s home on Cliff Road.

The watercolour is significant for the urban reality that Grimshaw made the centre of his art, with nature seen in close proximity to industry. It portrays the urban setting of north Leeds at a time when nature was rapidly being encroached by the developing industrialised city complete with its mills and mansions. According to Grimshaw’s grandson Guy Rangland Phillips, the figure with black hair depicted in the family group in the painting is the artist’s wife Theodosia.

It is believed the work was a family heirloom until it was sold to private owners in London in 1968, and it was last on public display in Leeds in 1979 as part of the exhibition ‘Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893’ which also toured to Southampton Art Gallery and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.

The painting has now become a permanent part of Leeds museums and galleries collection, and is on display at Leeds Art Gallery to reflect the role of the Leeds Art Fund, which celebrated its centenary last year, in supporting the acquisition of decorative and fine arts for the city’s collections.

Leeds City Council assistant curator of fine art Theodore Wilkins said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled that we have managed to save this extremely rare and beautiful watercolour for the city’s collection.

“John Atkinson Grimshaw is one of the Leeds most famous artists and it gives me great pleasure to have led the team that secured it for the people of Leeds to enjoy.”

Director of the Art Fund Stephen Deuchar said:

“There can be no better place to house this significant work by Grimshaw, a distinguished local artist, than Leeds Art Gallery. We were so pleased to be able to help Leeds Art Gallery secure this fine work at auction.”

Leeds Art Gallery is located on The Headrow in Leeds city centre. Admission is free. For more information on Leeds museums and galleries visit www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/

Notes to editors:

About the Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art, helping museums to buy and show great art for everyone to enjoy. Over the past five years the Art Fund has given £24m to help over 200 museums and galleries acquire £195m worth of art for their collections, from ancient sculpture and treasure hoards to Old Master paintings and contemporary commissions. It is funded by over 95,000 members who, through the National Art Pass, enjoy free and discounted entry to over 200 museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions. For more information visit www.artfund.org/

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund

The V&A Purchase Grant Fund is a government fund that helps regional museums, record offices and specialist libraries in England and Wales to acquire objects relating to the arts, literature and history.

It was established at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in 1881 and continues to be part of its nationwide network. The annual grants budget, currently £750,000, is provided by Arts Council England (ACE).

Each year, the Purchase Grand Fund considers some 200 applications and awards grants to around 100 organisations, enabling acquisitions of over £3mlllion to go ahead. Visit the website at www.vam.ac.uk/purchasegrantfund


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Roger Boyde, Leeds City Council press office,

Tel 0113 247 5472

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk