19th Century European Art

19th Century European Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 439. JOHN ATKINSON GRIMSHAW | A YORKSHIRE HOME.

Property of a European Private Collector


Auction Closed

January 31, 04:23 PM GMT


350,000 - 500,000 USD

Lot Details


Property of a European Private Collector



1836 - 1893


signed Atkinson Grimshawand dated 1878 (lower right)

oil on canvas

32½ by 48⅛ in.

82.6 by 122.2 cm

Sale: Sotheby's, London, May 22, 2014, lot 212, illustrated 

Acquired at the above sale 

A Yorkshire Home by John Atkinson Grimshaw is emblematic of the mystery, melancholy and nostalgia so often found in the artist’s work. The autumnal setting is a symphony in gold: the dark, seemingly empty house and surrounding land are bathed in crepuscular light. Viewed from the garden path at the far side of a small lake, the red brick house is Elizabethan in style with ornate gables and nineteenth century additions, including the bell tower. The textures of damp leaves, moss-covered stone and glassy still waters are overlaid with a lace-like effect of skeletal branches and the last leaves of autumn, and dusk has descended over another season.

Grimshaw explored the theme of country roads and homes lit only by November dusk or moonlight throughout the 1870s, a particularly prolific period for the artist. It was during this time that he, along with his wife Fanny and their four children, lived in Knostrop Hall, a rented seventeenth-century manor house near Leeds (fig. 1). Knostrop provided a remote, picturesque and moody setting for a number of Grimshaw’s compositions and influenced his work during this decade. The identity of the house in the present work remains mysteriously unknown, but it is Tudor style like Knostrop. A Yorkshire Home is one of a small group of works by Grimshaw from 1878-79 of the same home from various angles (one is in the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate).

Grimshaw’s paintings of the 1870s were influenced by the works of Alfred Tennyson, the celebrated Victorian poet. Biographer Alexander Robertson writes that Grimshaw’s “well-known love of Tennyson's poetry seems to be reflected in many subjects where night, overgrown gardens, and empty, mysterious houses are preferred to sunshine and more obviously inhabited dwellings" (Alexander Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, London, 1988, p. 35). Tennyson's poem The Deserted House of 1830, for example, like the present work, paints a haunting picture of an empty manor and evokes themes of the changing of seasons and the passing of time: 

All within is dark as night; 

In the windows is no light; 

And no murmur at the door, 

So frequent on its hinge before. 

Close the door, the shutters close,

Or thro' the windows we shall see 

The nakedness and vacancy

Of the dark deserted house.

Come away: no more of mirth

Is here or merry-making sound.

The house was builded of the earth, 

And shall fall again to ground.