[Wakefield, Upper Westgate (1896) Louis Hubbard Grimshaw - poor photograph on the BBC site]
Dusk from the outside, when the lights in shop and house windows are switched on and the street lights begin to glow, and the sky turns different colours, and buildings recede and people become indistinct, is one of my favourite moments of a winter's day.
John Atkinson Grimshaw is widely regarded as the master of fading light, dusk and moonlight, but he also had two sons who clearly learned from him. I imagine them (and the other siblings who also became painters) all setting up their easels in the middle of a busy main street or dock in Leeds or Hull or Glasgow or Newcastle, all vying for the best spot and competing to capture the best moment of dusk. Or maybe not.
[The Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1895) Arthur Grimshaw]
The paintings may be dated but they are still brilliantly atmospheric. Unsurprisingly, Grimmie's paintings were immensely popular with Victorian collectors, and I can't think of many other British painters who have surpassed him particularly in the painting of urban twilight and moonlight scenes. I also like his sons' paintings which show even more brightly lit late Victorian scenes with fashionable shops ablaze with electric light.
[Liverpool Docks (1892) John Atkinson Grimshaw]
But Father Grimshaw is the master. He makes a tawdry or dull or ordinary street scene look beautiful at dusk - which is often is. Dusk masks and softens and makes towns and cities glow, rubs out eyesores and enhances theatricality.
[Blackman Street (1885) John Atkinson Grimshaw]
[Going Home at Dusk (1882) John Atkinson Grimshaw]
Dusk makes going home special. Just look at these three scenes of Hampstead at dusk, all painted in exactly the same place yet all with completely different effects. After years of bemoaning and dreading the loss of light, I realise that dusk is something to enjoy and even look forward to, because you never know what special effects it will bring.
[On Hampstead Hill (1881) John Atkinson Grimshaw]
[A View of Hampstead, London (1882) John Atkinson Grimshaw]