Old Hall in Cheshire - early morning, October signed and dated 'Atkinson Grimshaw/1880+' (lower right) oil on canvas 76.5 x 127.5cm (30 1/8 x 50 3/16in).
From the early 1870s Grimshaw had chosen the theme of the deserted or isolated house as particularly appropriate for his artistic message. It seemed to fulfil his leanings towards the romantic in literature and poetry, looking back to an earlier age, even naming his own children after characters in Tennyson's Idylls of the King and choosing to live in a 17th century manor house. Such places conjured up memories of loss and the passing of time, of decay and change.
The houses Grimshaw paints in these works, either half timbered, as with the present lot, or with gables and turrets, are the homes of the new wealthy middle class, the very people who admired and bought Grimshaw's paintings. Gardens are usually hidden behind stone walls or else as here fully open and overgrown. Other paintings also show a moat or pool hinting at old stories of elopements by water. The starkness of this autumnal scene indicates that the happy times are over. An air of nostalgia pervades everything heightened by Grimshaw's use of soft tones to knit everything into a poetic whole.