Grimshaw executed this picture in the grounds of Gledhow Hall, Leeds. The woods there had inspired other artists: J.M.W. Turner executed a sketch of the famous beeches in 1816, and the park was considered noteworthy for its beauty. The house belonged to many prominent Leeds families throughout the nineteenth century: the Becketts, the Benyons and the Coopers all lived there before the estate was bought by James Kitson, later Baron Airedale, in 1878. A staunch liberal he became the first Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1896 and entertained several statesmen there, including Lord Roseberry and Prime Minister Gladstone.
The picture is sold with four nineteenth century photographs of Gledhow Hall and Park. These show how Grimshaw's work was influenced by early developments in photography. Trees in winter were a favourite subject for photographers as their bare branches could clearly be discerned against the sky. (Their lack of leaves also ensured that they would not move in the wind and blur an image developed through a lengthy exposure). The photographs enabled Grimshaw to describe in previously unattempted detail the complexity of the silhouette, and nuances of light and shade. On such a firm foundation, he then added his own poetry of tone, and effects such as the mist rising from the lake.
We are grateful to Alex Robertson for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.