Comparable to Under the Moonbeams, Knostrop Hall (sold Christies, New York, 12 April 2007, lot 111) the present lot is an excellent example of Grimshaw's moonlight painting, and shows the artist at the height of his powers.
Under the Moonbeams is one of the artists more poetic titles and alludes to a grander theme with the suggestion of lovers meeting in secret. Alexander Robertson writes "such paintings echo Tennysonian feelings about love, a night-time's longing, Half the night I waste in sighs" (Maud), or clandestine meetings, as of Leolin and Edith in Aylmer's Field:
Yet once by night again the lovers met, A perilous meeting under the tall pines
That darken'd all the northward of the Hall.
The spirit of the age which Tennyson at times embodied is carried over into Grimshaw's paintings in the common symbol of the moon. These resonances touched Grimshaw's public also. His moonlights, as well as suggesting the strange beauty of night, of cities and lanes transformed by another light, also mask, with their atmospheric effect, the unpleasant side of industrialization. Grimshaw made commercial life acceptable by giving contemporary reality a romantic sheen; his moonlight paintings could be seen as an antidote to materialism....Grimshaw's paintings were, therefore, a reassuring statement about contemporary images; in a period of great change they presented a wistful nostalgia for the past' (op. cit., p. 90-94).
We are grateful to Alexander Robertson for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.