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PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

John Atkinson Grimshaw
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT, A LAKE DISTRICT TORRENT (SOUR MILK FALLS, EASEDALE)
JUMP TO LOT
23

PROPERTY FROM AN AMERICAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

John Atkinson Grimshaw
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT, A LAKE DISTRICT TORRENT (SOUR MILK FALLS, EASEDALE)
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

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London

John Atkinson Grimshaw
1836-1893
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT, A LAKE DISTRICT TORRENT (SOUR MILK FALLS, EASEDALE)
signed and dated l.l.: Atkinson Grimshaw - 1871+; further signed and indistinctly dated l.r. and titled and signed on the stretcher; Sour Milk Falls, Easedale/ Atkinson Grimshaw
oil on canvas
35 by 55cm., 14½ by 22in.
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Catalogue Note

This re-discovered painting is an important addition to the small group of early pictures by Grimshaw that celebrate the magnificent wilderness of the Lake District. Unlike Grimshaw’s nocturnes and poetic romances, which have a quiet and reflective atmosphere, the Cumberland pictures of the late 1860s and early 1870s are energetic and experimental in technique and crystalline in silvery detail. In these pictures Grimshaw combined the attentive Pre-Raphaelite approach to landscape painting in the foreground, with the more atmospheric style of Turner and Linnell in the skies which have a more celestial intensity of glorious desolation.

Grimshaw probably first visited the Lake District in 1863 when he painted Windermere (Sotheby's, London, 6 November 1996, lot 300) and other Lake District scenes are dated 1864 and 1865. It is likely that Grimshaw also used photographs to aid his paintings at this time. A photograph album that once belonged to Grimshaw (now at Leeds City Art Gallery), contains images of Rydal Water, Windermere, Stickle Tarn, Borrowdale and Ambleside. These photographs certainly provided Grimshaw with the basis for at least two strikingly detailed Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Nab Scar, The Lake District of 1864 (collection of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber) and Blea Tarn, First Light, Langdale Pikes in the Distance of 1865 (private collection). Grimshaw made another painting expedition to the Lakes with his wife in 1868. A painting entitled The Artist Painting in the Lake District (Sotheby’s, Belgravia, 20 June 1972, lot 92) almost certainly records the 1868 trip, showing Theodosia Grimshaw looking over the shoulder of her husband as he busily paints the vast landscape in front of him. This sketching trip also produced sketches for the watercolour The Vale of Newlands, Cumberland (private collection), A Mountain Road, Flood Time (Sotheby’s, London, 22 May 2014, lot 130), Looking towards Wasdale, the Lake District (Christie's, South Kensington, 23 March 2016, lot 70), Ingleborough from under White Scar (Bradford Museum and Galleries) and its pair The Seal of the Covenant (Leeds City Art Galleries) which is very similar to the present picture.

The arc of a rainbow in A Mountain Road, Flood Time, The Seal of the Covenant and the present painting is not simply a picturesque detail, or a reflection of Grimshaw’s interest in fleeting meteorological lighting effects. It is a symbol of Heavenly power, of the Lord’s presence on earth, intended 'to act as metaphor for God's pact with humanity.' (A. Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, 1996, p.41) The geologically-studied landscape may have a deeper religious symbolism as the science of geology was a controversial subject in the mid-nineteenth century when it was used to try to both prove and disprove the existence of God. Grimshaw and his family had recently converted to Roman Catholicism and therefore the rainbow is symbolic of his new-found spirituality and his assertion of religious belief.

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

|
London