The Last Day in the Old Home, oil on canvas, 1862, by Robert Braithwaite Martineau, British, 1826-1869.
Victorians loved moralist art. The Pulleyne family has to sell its ancestral home, Hadham Court, because of the gambling and spending habits of the man raising his glass in joy. The son learns from his father so loss will be a generational experience.
The women are the only disturbed ones in the family as the old woman pays the butler for the last time and he surrenders his house keys. Small tags on family portraits and furniture show the items are headed for auction. A Christie’s catalog is on the floor. Even the season of the year, autumn, blends with the family’s fate. This is a very detail-rich, sad painting despite the celebratory air at the right.
Martineau was a student of William Holman Hunt and the work is on display at Tate Britain after having been presented by E.H. Martineau in 1896.