Knole, in Sevenoaks, Kent, the ancestral home of the Sackville family, has remained almost unaltered since the fifteenth-century core was originally improved and extended by the 1st Earl of Dorset in 1603. Its countless rooms, rumoured to number 365, have provided inspiration to artists over the centuries; John Everett Millais set 'St Agnes' Eve' (Royal Collection) in one of the panelled bedrooms.
The long gallery depicted here is the Leicester Gallery, whilst the limb extending west is sometimes called the Billiard Room. Many of the pictures shown still hang in their places, for example the large copy of Titian's 'Diana and Acteon', with its intense blue sky background, on the salient wall of the Billiard Room. Whilst Holland's long perspective emphasises the gallery's august aspect, the detail of the propped painting on the right, perhaps awaiting rehanging, gives us a sense of the house as an occupied home.
James Holland was a disciple of Bonington, but his work is characterised by a strong under-structure, and the deft way he applies paint lends both his landscapes and architectural studies a fresh, almost contemporary, feel. Holland was an associate of the Old Water-Colour Society before attaining full membership in 1857. A seminal visit to Paris in 1831 inspired further trips to the Continent, on which Holland produced city views that were reproduced in annuals.