Albert Moore and the University’s art collection

To coincide with a major exhibition of York-born artist Albert Joseph Moore’s work running at York Art Gallery Ilka Heale, Metadata Specialist, links the artist to the University’s art collection.

York Art Gallery currently has a major exhibition of the York-born artist Albert Joseph Moore’s work. This is the first exhibition of his work since the one held in 1894 to commemorate his death a year earlier.

The Department of History of Art at the University collaborated with the art gallery to set up the exhibition. Earlier in the summer the Department hosted the conference Rethinking Albert Moore and speakers included Professor Liz Prettejohn from the Department who has authored many books on Victorian painting and Aestheticism.

Born in York in 1841, Albert Moore was one of the leading artists of the Aesthetic movement in the late 19th century alongside J.M. Whistler, Edward Burne-Jones, G.F. Watts and Frederic, Lord Leighton. Believing in “art for art’s sake”, these artists emphasised that art existed for its beauty alone rather than the importance of subject matter or another purpose.

Albert was the youngest child in a family of artists. The exhibition also features paintings by Moore’s father and brothers of a variety of seascapes, landscapes and views of York.

Albert’s father was William Moore (1790-1851), a portrait and landscape artist who worked in oil, watercolours and pastel. Born in Birmingham, Moore moved to York in 1829 where he made a living painting portraits for local patrons. He died in 1851 after becoming ill from lead and vermilion poisoning, contracted from pastel pigment.

Five of his fourteen children (pupiled by William) became professional artists.
As well as Albert, there was Henry Moore RA (1831-1895), John Collingham Moore (1829-1880), the watercolourist Edwin Moore (1813-1893), and William Moore Jnr (1817-1909) a landscape painter.

The University of York art collection has a number of works of art which can be found throughout the campus and buildings. Within the collection are two portraits of wealthy York gentlemen painted in oils. The painter is listed as William Moore, although there is limited information about the origin or provenance of the paintings.

John Greame Esq. of Sewerby and Heslington in the
East Riding, 1833. Photograph by Paul Shields. 

This painting is of York gentleman John Graeme whose first wife was Sarah Yarburgh a descendant from the Yarburgh family of Heslington Hall.  Sarah died prematurely leaving Graeme with two young children.  John later remarried moving his family to Sewerby Hall where he lived with his second wife until their deaths within a few days of each other in February 1841. For more information on Sewerby Hall, see this guidebook in our King’s Manor Library.

The second portrait is of  John Graeme’s eldest son from his first marriage, Yarburgh, also painted in 1833.

Yarburgh Esq. of Sewerby and Heslington, 1833. Photograph by Paul Shields. 

The estate then passed to his eldest son from his first marriage, Yarburgh Graeme (b. 1782?), who also inherited Heslington Hall from his mother’s family.  A clause in his grandfather’s will stipulated that if the estate passed down through the female line any future heirs had to assume the name and coat of arms of Yarburgh. Due to this provision Graeme changed his name to Yarburgh Yarburgh. 

It is not know if Yarburgh lived in Heslington Hall but he did replace most of the Elizabethan hall with the largely Victorian building that the University took over in 1962.  

Heslington Hall during rebuilding, 1855. Reproduced by Paul Shields. 

This photograph shows the hall during the rebuilding in 1855 and is taken from a collection of photographs, offprints and typescripts by Harry Fairhurst for the book Heslington Hall: introductory notes on the building and its owners. The University Library also has a number of books on the history of Heslington Hall which can be found on YorSearch, the Library catalogue.

The exhibition Albert Moore: Of beauty and aesthetics continues until Sunday 1 October 2017 at York Art Gallery, so there is still plenty of time to visit. 


To find books about Albert Moore and the Aesthetic movement, search YorSearch, the Library catalogue or browse the shelves in our History of Art collection at LJ 9.2081 and LJ 9.2:


The University of York art collection comprises of a wide range of works, from ancient and modern ceramics and sculpture to photography and printmaking. To view items in the collection search the online catalogue which is also available in print and can be found in the Library.

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