Spotlight On: John Atkinson Grimshaw’s ‘Princes Dock, Hull’

Ever wondered what Hull looked like in the 1880s?

This painting, completed by landscape painter John Atkinson Grimshaw in 1887, depicts Hull’s Prince’s Dock Street 130 years ago.

The dark silhouettes of Hull’s Dock Offices (now the Hull Maritime Museum) and the Wilberforce Monument (which you’ll find just outside Hull College today) can be seen in the centre of the painting, with the warm, inviting glow of shop windows to the right. Grimshaw captures the mood of this quiet scene, skilfully painting the effects of light, from the moon hiding behind the buildings to the dim street lamps.

John Atkinson Grimshaw, 'Princes Dock, Hull' (1887). © Ferens Art Gallery

Throughout his career, Grimshaw produced detailed landscapes and cityscapes, often in his home county of Yorkshire. Both his subject matter and style changed very little over time; his moonlit views of suburban streets, cities and their docks have become some of Grimshaw’s best-known works, painted in a style that will forever be associated with the Victorian era.

This particular painting is one of Grimshaw’s late works, painted just six years before his death. Although not always on display, this is one of many captivating maritime paintings in the Ferens Collection.

Our Spotlight On series takes a look at some of the fascinating artworks and objects in Hull’s museums and galleries.