Dame Laura Knight: The Fairgrounds, Penzance

Irina Dame Laura Knight - The Fairground, Penzance by irina
Dame Laura Knight, The Fairgrounds, Penzance, (c.1916), Source: Sotheby’s

Who Was Dame Laura Knight?

Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving and drypoint. Knight was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition who embraced English Impressionism. As a teenager, she initially started painting to help support her financially struggling family in her home town of Nottingham, England.

The Fairground

Dating back to the fourteenth century, a fair was regularly held in Penzance in Cornwall, England. Common sights included merry-go-rounds, acrobats, clowns, peddlars, beer-sellers, and men performing card tricks.

screenshot_2
Dame Laura Knight, The Fairgrounds, Penzance, (c.1916), Source: Sotheby’s (detail)

According to Sotheby’s

Travelling fairgrounds, carnivals, circuses and side shows, often operated by gypsies, were, of course, a common feature of English towns and villages at the turn of the twentieth century. Many, such as that at Penzance, had venerable histories.

 

screenshot_19
Dame Laura Knight, The Fairgrounds, Penzance, (c.1916), Source:  Sotheby’s,  detail

“The Cornish Scarlet”

Around 1913, Laura Knight purchased a long red hand-knitted “cardigan” at a fair in Penzance. This celebrated garment, known as “The Cornish Scarlet”, was worn by the artist and habitually handed out to models when a vivid color note was required for a composition. It features so prominently in the center of two versions of The Fairground, Penzance that it has been claimed that the figure wearing it is the artist – albeit a younger self.1         from Sotheby’s

Click for Enlarged Detail:

(best viewed At Sunnyside – Where Truth and Beauty Meet)

 

In Summary

In her long career, Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.

According to Tate.org

“Influenced by Impressionism and the Newlyn School in Cornwall, Knight’s subject-matter is contemporary without being avant-garde. Dismissed by Modernists for her lack of interest in formal experiment, Knight’s insistent realism made her one of the most popular artists of the time.”

Thanks for reading! 🙂

The End

References

Image Source

Sotheby’s

  • Dame Laura Knight R.A 1877-1970
  • THE FAIRGROUND, PENZANCE
signed Laura Knight (lower right)
oil on canvas
55 by 74 3/4 in.
139.7 by 189.9 cm

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. penwithlit says:

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Marvellous Laura Knight who drew so well from an early age.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marvelous indeed – thanks for visiting! 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s