Life and career
George Skelton was born in Grimsby in 1855, the son of John Skelton and his wife, Harriet. John Skelton was a landowner and one time was Vice-Consul to Denmark. Skelton worked as a clerk with the Hull Savings Bank and lived in the family home at 43 Pasture Street.
Skelton was a talented musician. But, his greatest love was art and he began sketching his surroundings from an early age. He never married or had children of his own. He had a close relationship with the family of his elder brother, William. William died in 1901 and Skelton went to live with his sister-in-law, Eliza, and her daughter, May. They lived in a villa on Abbey Park Road named “Armathwaite”.
George Skelton passed away on 15th July 1932.
Skelton signed and dated most of his artwork. Some of his drawings show local scenes dating to his childhood years. Others date years, sometimes decades before his birth. The earliest drawing is dated to 1650, over 200 years before Skelton was born.
He probably based these drawings on artworks by earlier artists or from the memories of local people. He was particularly influenced by another Grimsby based artist called James Jilliot. James was born in Grimsby in 1800. He also used his artistic talent to record the town in the years before the mid-Victorian revival. Skelton was clearly impressed by Jilliot and used him as inspiration for his own work. In some cases, the style and aspect of Skelton’work is almost identical when compared to that of Jilliot. We don’t know if the artists ever met, but we know they were active at the same time and may have been aware of each other’s work.