John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836–1893): Reflections on the11/30/2021, 3:01:58 PM
John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836–1893): Reflections on the Thames, Westminster (detail), 1880, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 127 cm, Leeds Art Gallery, England 'Reflections on the Thames' is typical of Grimshaw’s work. It is filled with moonlight; besides the full moon, there are at least three heterogeneous sources of light: gaslight on Westminster Bridge and lighting the face of the clock that came to be called ‘Big Ben’; electric arc light on the Victoria Embankment; small oil lights on moored and moving Thames barges and other vessels; and small oil (or candle) lights on a carriage. Each light is reflected on the river and the lights interpenetrate each other. The Embankment offers the viewer a safe vantage point to look across the river and the eye is caught by the strong vertical lines of the Houses of Parliament. In the foreground is an isolated figure of a woman. This figure looks out from the right-hand side of the canvas, over the Embankment and up towards the moon, in a diagonal gaze that links the upper and lower, and the left and right, frames of the painting. She is surrounded by the light and life of the city, and the piece seems to thus become much more human.