This was a curiously light-hearted picture to exhibit during the First World War. Many artists felt compelled to comment on the hostilities in their exhibited works, whether in terms of realism or allegory, and indeed Byam Shaw himself did this elsewhere. An example, '1916', a symbolist watercolour shown with the present work at the RWS in 1916, was sold in these Rooms on 8 June 2000, lot 41. He also produced some savagely bitter cartoons on such subjects as atrocities in Belgium and the execution of Edith Cavell, publishing them in the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and elsewhere. He joined the United Arts Rifles, and there were even plans to convert the art school he ran on Campden Hill into a factory for aeroplane parts.
Both technically and thematically, When Love came into the House shows the artist in characteristic neo-Pre-Raphaelite mode. It is a sort of jokey modern-life take on the Dantesque subjects featuring Love as a winged youth that had appealed so strongly to D.G. Rossetti and his follower Marie Stillman. The title is a little reminiscent of that of G.F. Watts's picture When Poverty comes in at the Door, Love flies out of the Window (1879), although of course the moral and sentiment are very different.