Knight, Laura (1877-1970) by Scholes, Robert

Born in Derbyshire, Laura Johnson was encouraged to paint by her artistic mother and first went to study at Nottingham School of Art at the age of thirteen. It was here that she met her future husband, Harold Knight, with whom she spent time in Staithes (a small fishing village in Yorkshire), where they both found inspiration and in Holland, where they studied the Dutch masters. In 1907, the Knights came to Cornwall, at first taking lodgings in Newlyn and later moving to Lamorna, where they became central figures in the growing artists colony. She is probably best known for her tranquil beach and seaside paintings, paintings of the circus and of the ballet. She was elected a Royal Academician in 1936, and in the first half of the twentieth century was considered one of the most talented British artists. Married to the painter Harold Knight (1874-1961) Dame Laura was an official war artist and was sent to make portraits at the War Criminals Trials in Nuremberg.

In The New Age (Vol. 6, No. 8, p. 189), Huntly Carter had this to say about her work:

The studies by Mrs. Laura Knight also are strong. They stand out in protest against the pretty and sugary stuff of lazy and inefficient exhibitors. She has not been content to put the wash on her paper and tint it in, and then fly from her medium as others do, but has struggled with her medium and mastered it. She has used her brush, put it down on the paper, has scratched the surface, experimented with it, and achieved an artistic result. Compared with the school studies and Christmas cards of Mr. E. R. Hughes, and other pictures which, if reduced, might decorate confetti boxes, her works are masterpieces.

Ballet (1936)
— Knight, Laura


Beach (1908)
— Knight, Laura


— Knight, Laura

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