Laura Knight Portraits
Pub. date: 11 July 2013
Format: 290 x 230mm
Extent: 128 pages
Illustrations: 80 colour
Binding: Paperback with flaps
Category: Art History/History/Reference
Word Count: 17,000
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A long overdue reappraisal of an outstanding and pioneering female artist, featuring over 35 of her finest works from across her vast and prolific career, demonstrating both the remarkable variety of her subjects and her consummate skills as an artist.
Dame Laura Knight (1877–1970) was one of the leading British painters of the twentieth century. However, her rejection of Modernism and her association with the ‘mainstream’ led to a decline in her reputation, and since her death she has, to some extent, fallen into obscurity. This long overdue reappraisal of an outstanding and pioneering female artist features over 35 of her finest works from across her long and prolific career, demonstrating both the remarkable variety of her subjects and her consummate skills as an artist.
Knight worked as a professional artist without a break from the age of fourteen until almost the end of her life. She was the first woman in over a century to be accepted as a full member of the Royal Academy and was made a Dame in 1929, having risen to the top of her profession and attained a status equal to the most successful male artists of the time.
During the course of an extraordinarily productive career that spanned over seventy years, Knight’s work reflected her commitment to depicting modern life and her fascination with the human figure – as asserted in her iconic Self with Nude (1913). She successfully negotiated the professional art world at a time when other women artists struggled for recognition and sought to control her public image via two volumes of autobiography.
This book, like the exhibition it accompanies, demonstrates Knight’s impressive skills as a painter and draughtsman, her courage in tackling complex compositions and challenging subjects, and her compassionate approach to the sitters with whom she worked. Taken together, the selection of portraits also presents a distinctive picture of twentieth-century Britain.
Rosie Broadley is Associate Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London. She contributed an extended narrative chronology to Lucian Freud Portraits (2012).