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 Dame Laura Knight  (1877 - 1970)

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Lived/Active: England/United Kingdom      Known for: impressionist landscape, figure, circus genre, ballet genre painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

An English impressionist painter noted for genre paintings of the London theatre district, ballet and circus genre.  The late 1920s and early 30s are regarded as her most productive time professionally, as she began her circus subjects in 1928 and her depictions of horse racing and gypsies in the 1930s.  In 1929, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1936, she became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy.  She was a war artist during World War II, and in 1946, did reporting as an artist on the Nuremberg trials.

Laura Knight had a difficult childhood because her father died shortly after her birth in Derbyshire, and the family struggled financially.  She attended the Nottingham School of Art, where she, age 13, first met Harold Knight, age 17, and she was so admiring of his art skills that she decided to use him as her mentor.  They became very good friends, and then married in 1903.  Four years later, they became part of the artist colony at Newlyn in Cornwall, and she began doing landscape and beach scenes in impressionist style. 

In 1913, she did a painting, which was a self-portrait with a nude model, Ella Naper.  It was shocking for that era, as a woman artist had never before painted an image of herself with a nude.

Dame Laura Knight did over 250 works during her lifetime, continuing after her husband's death in 1961.  She also wrote two autobiographies:  Oil Paint and Grease Paint (1936) and The Magic of a Line (1965).

Source:
Caroline Fox, Dame Laura Knight, (1988), Wikipedia


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