Monday 16 June 2008

Dame Laura Knight 1877 - 1970

Last week MissM and I visited
the International Art & Antiques Fair .
It was a treasure house of beautiful things to admire.

Lamorna Cove

We were both struck by this picture
because it is from West Penwith,
a part of Cornwall we know very well.
Pebbledash, a blog-friend who lives nearby,
will recognise these cliffs.

I am grateful to the courteous stallholder
who took the time to give us some detail about the artist.

Self Portrait

Laura Knight was orphaned at an early age
and had to earn her living by painting.
After marrying a fellow artist, Harold Knight,
she moved to Cornwall in 1907
and became part of the Newlyn School.

The young couple found a studio home
in the claustrophobic valley of Lamorna
which had a colony of artists including Lamorna Birch.
It was a happy and inspiring time
and there are many sunny Impressionistic pictures.

In the sun, Newlyn

After the war Laura and Harold moved to London
and she developed her interest in ballet and the circus.

Ballet (1936)

Her paintings were very accomplished technically
and you can see influences
from artistic innovations of the time.

Grand Parade

It would be a mistake to dismiss her work as sentimental.
She was a talented portrait artist and her portfolio
included perceptive pictures of industry before the war.

China Clay Pit (c. 1912)

During WW2 she became an official war artist
and captured the energy and dedication
of the female munitions workers.

Ruby Loftus screwing a breech-ring (1942)

At the end of her life she painted the defendants
at the Nuremberg War Trials.

The Dock, Nuremberg (1946)

This powerful picture
of humanity disintegrating into chaos
is a lifetime away from
the posed picture on the Lamorna Cliffs.


Unknown said...

That first picture is simply striking.

blackbird said...

Those are, from first to last, wonderful. I'm so glad to have seen them.

Melody said...

Oh my, they are lovely paintings. Lovely 'snippets' of time too don't you think?

dragonfly said...

Wonderful paintings - thank you for sharing.

walter and me said...

Lovely paintings, such detail...and yes, I know those cliffs very well! Great post, thank you! x

Anonymous said...

interesting to think that my grandfather was an interpreter at Nuremburg - not long after a five year career break in an Oflag in Germany (captured at St Valery on 12 June 1940 so almost exactly 68 years ago).

Small world at times

Mary said...

It is an almost shocking contrast.

Her story has a Sue Geeish quality about it.

Anonymous said...

Her life seems intertwined with so many moments of history. She must have been very perceptive to have captured them...

RW said...

Yes. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea. This is why I love the blog world. I learn so much.

Fairlie - said...

The blogging world never ceases to amaze me with its ability to provide the links between seemingly unrelated strands of my life experiences. I have just finished a book by Patrick Gale, Notes from an Exhibition, in which the main character is a female artist living in Cornwall. I immediately thought of that book when I saw the first painting.

She sounds like a fascinating artist.

fifi said...

These are the most fantastic posts: from th real peony on the peony plate, all the way through the lovely woman painter.
I often wish that I had made my living like that, and that there were a need for paintings as such. The blue shadows in the clay-pit painting so striking.

Imagine having peonies in your garden. And you say they have been battered? That is too bad.

One day I will know those cliffs too. I hope to visit that place.

julie said...

Thanks for sharing the paintings and the history. What a life she must have led - it's very thought-provoking to see the contrast between her early work and the later pieces. It perfectly illustrates how much the world was changed by the war.

Lynn said...

I appreciated this post so much. The artist's life speaks volumes about one's ability to grow and evolve, as well as to remain wildly creative well into one's "golden" years. I wonder if she (or the world) valued her later more grim work more highly than the early pretty stuff?

Anonymous said...

I knew nothing about the Newlyn school until I read a book about Munnings and Knight - it's wonderful and can I remember the name, can I heck. I have googled and amazoned but with no joy. It's a novel (though based on fact) and I'll have to ask my art historian friend Pippa for the title but it got me hooked. I'm now a Knight fan, I don't love her quite as much as Millais or Turner ... but almost!

Anonymous said...

Reply to Gillie: I think the book you mean is Summer in February by Jonatha Smith