The public can from today (Jan 28) see a rare watercolour painting that hasn’t been on display for more than 30 years.
The work by famed Leeds artist John Atkinson Grimshaw is called ‘View of Leeds from Woodhouse Ridge’.
Painted in 1868 when the artist was 32, it shows the view from Batty’s Wood in Woodhouse across a increasingly industrialised Leeds looking towards St Chad’s Church in Headingley.
It was last on display in Leeds in 1979, but it can now been seen in pride of place at Leeds Art Gallery in The Headrow.
The work was bought at auction from a private owner for £31,000 by Leeds City Council with help from the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Leeds Art Fund, the Friends of Leeds City Museums, the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society and the Richard Green Gallery.
Grimshaw was born in Leeds in 1836, lived in Cliff Road, Hyde Park later moving to Knostrop Old Hall in 1870, and was buried in 1893 in Woodhouse Hill Cemetery (Hunslet Cemetery) in Hunslet.
The watercolour is rare as there are only a handful as the self-taught artist worked mostly in oils.
It joins two others - ‘Still-Life with Bird’s Nest’ (1862) and ‘On the Tees, near Barnard Castle’ (circa 1868) - and is among 24 Grimshaws held by the Leeds museums and galleries.
The council’s assistant curator of fine art Theodore ‘Ted’ 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.”
The watercolour shows the urban setting of north Leeds at a time when nature was rapidly being encroached upon by the city with its Yorkshire stone mills and mansions.
Grimshaw’s grandson Guy Rangland Phillips says the figure with black hair depicted in the family group is the artist’s wife Theodosia.
It is believed the watercolour was a family heirloom until it was sold to private owners in London in 1968 and was last on display in Leeds in 1979 as part of the exhibition ‘Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893’.
Admission to the gallery is free.