Painted in 1879 A Moated Yorkshire Home
is a large example from a series of pictures painted by Grimshaw in the 1870s which depict beautiful, romantic houses amid autumnal parkland and crepuscular light. These pictures have a poetic atmosphere that is both celebratory and melancholic; symphonies in russet fallen leaves and suffused golden sunlight with malachite green moss-covered walls and skeletal towering trees. A Moated Yorkshire Home
is a celebration of the last glory of the year and symbolic not of death and decay, but of the hope of rebirth. He painted that time of day described in Britain as the Golden Hour
and in France as entre chien et loup
(between dog and wolf).
In 1878 Grimshaw had painted several pictures with the title A Yorkshire Home
(one in the Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate and another sold in these rooms 22 May 2014, lot 212). These pictures depict a large Elizabethan-style red-brick mansion with ornate gables and a central bell-tower. A Moated Yorkshire Home,
and another similar picture (Sotheby’s, New York, 26 October 2004, lot 103), depict the same building seen in the two pictures from 1878, but viewed from a different aspect. The two views of the same house suggest that they were painted from an existing house rather than from the artist's imagination. The house has not been identified which adds to the enigmatic mystery of the pictures.
Although the style of the mansion in the present picture includes elements from Tudor architectural-style, the house was probably a Victorian design. As Derek Linstrum has written; 'The mid-nineteenth century was a period of architectural distinction in Leeds; Norman Shaw and Pugin both built houses there, and their imaginative work was an inspiration for local architects. The most important of these was a Scot, George Corson, whose style was various and inventive. He designed important civic buildings in Park Row, and the Grand Theatre, which was built in a romantic Gothic mood with pinnacles. His domestic architecture in Meanwood and Headingley was in his own rich version of medieval or Renaissance styles.'
(Derek Linstrum, Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893
, 1970) It is possible that Grimshaw took some elements of his design from Robinson's book on architecture Vitruvius Britannicus
of 1833; he is known to have owned a copy.
In 1870 Grimshaw, his wife Fanny and their four children moved into Knostrop Old Hall, a rented seventeeth-century manor house on the Temple Newsam estate near Leeds. Grimshaw's residence at Knostrop has led to confusion regarding the location of some of his pictures which have been identified as depicting Knostrop because of the style of the buildings, a confusion sometimes exacerbated by the artist inscribing the word 'Knostrop' on the reverse of pictures - refering to the address of the artist rather than the setting of the picture. A Moated Yorkshire Home does not depict Knostrop but the architecture is similar, being essentially Tudor in design but with nineteenth-century additions, including the one-storey wing on one side and the bell-tower. The house also bears some similarities to Temple Newsam itself although it is certainly not a depiction of this much larger Tudor-Jacobean masterpiece.