Midsummer Night or Iris (1876), John Atkinson Grimshaw

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Midsummer Night or Iris (1876), John Atkinson Grimshaw

Grimshaw produced several versions of this subject, one of which is currently in the Leeds City Art Gallery. Iris was a messenger of the gods sent to wither flowers in the autumn but when she hesitated in her appointed duty to admire a pool of waterlilies, she was turned into a rainbow for her disobedience. Iris depicts the moment she pauses to hover over the flickering pool at dusk and is absorbed by the beauty of the flowers covering the shimmering water. She appears to be lit from within, with her body covered with a very thin veil emitting its own a silvery glow and her opalescent wings containing all the colors of the rainbow that she eventually becomes.

Grimshaw also loved to experiment with technique and in Midsummer Night or Iris the artist uses the opportunities presented by the subject matter to joyfully exhibit his mastery of new and innovative ways to apply paint to canvas. The cross-hatchings and use of the back of the brush to add texture and interest to the dead and dying marshy reeds in the foreground are in direct contrast to the misty, layered tones with hints of leafless trees and the surface of the pond itself. This layering of thin washes of color in the sky and middle distance resemble the effects achieved by Turner and the interaction of differing techniques of oil and watercolor with layers of pigment generalized and thinly applied in some areas and more precise in others, brings to mind the works of James Whistler.
The model for the fairy is Agnes Leefe, who was an actress at the Leeds Grand Theatre. She was the model for a significant number of paintings in the artist’s oeuvre, and the only model for his nudes, which were all painted at a time when Miss Leefe was living with and modeling for Grimshaw in London.

Available as a fine art print and as a stretched canvas panel (heavy fine art canvas stretched over 1.5 inch deep edge solid wood frame)

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All prints are made using archival art stocks and UV pigment inks to give up to 200 years life. Prints are sold unframed and unmounted.


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Fine art papers are printed without any additional white border Please let us know at the time of ordering if you would like a small additional white border.

Rolled canvas options have an additional white border of approximately 2.5 inches (7cm) on all 4 sides to aid stretching.

Ready to hang canvas panels are stretched on 1.5 inch deep solid pine frames from sustainable forestry sources. The image is mirrored on all 4 sides to give an aesthetically pleasing finish.

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