The Thames and Southwark Bridge are represented here on a quite night under the moonlight. St. Paul’s prominent dome is seen on the right side, along with the spires of St Augustine, St Mary le Bow and St Antholin. A few vessels are in the dark on the left. The river and the sky are open pathways for the flood of light. The frame of the painting is a modern reproduction following another Atkinson Grimshaw’s frame from 1880. The painting was purchased in 1967 and there was no record of its original frame, hence the Gallery has been careful to choose an appropriate design for its reproduction, it’s been made with original materials and techniques as much as possible.
John Atkinson Grimshaw began working as a railway clerk for Great Northern Railway and had no formal training. Despite parental opposition, he took up painting at the age of twenty-five. In the 1880s, he began to paint London views, concentrating on moonlight subjects. This is one of at least five views of Southwark Bridge at night. From 1885 to 1887 Grimshaw had a studio at Trafalgar Studios, Manresa Road, Chelsea and knew Whistler well. It is said that Whistler confessed he had regarded himself as the inventor of nocturnes until he saw Atkinson Grimshaw’s ‘moonlights’. He is very popular for his city night-scenes and landscapes.