Book on Winifred Knights takes top art history prize

William MB Berger Prize for British Art History

Christopher Le Brun, President of the Royal Academy of Arts, presents Sacha Llewellyn with the £5000 William MB Berger Prize for British Art History. Winifred Knights: 1899-1947 was published by Lund Humphries in association with the Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2016.

Antiques Trade Gazette
By Frances Allitt

The artist Winifred Knights (1899-1947) was once all but forgotten but a recent book about her life and work has won this year’s William MB Berger Prize for British Art History.

Sacha Llewellyn, an independent researcher, curator and co-founder of dealership Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, wrote the book which was published by Lund Humphries in May 2016 in
association with The Dulwich Picture Gallery. Winifred Knights: 1899-1947 brings together a selection of previously unpublished material including letters, diaries, sketchbooks and photographs.

Its release coincided with the first major exhibition of Knights’ work at Dulwich Picture Gallery, which Llewellyn also curated.

The publication provides the first full account of Knights’ life and work. She rose to critical acclaim during the four years she attended the Slade School and was the first British woman to win the Rome Scholarship in decorative painting. Her large work The Deluge (1920) is in the Tate collection. However, she fell out of the public eye in the 1930s as she struggled with commissions, mental health, personal tragedy and the outbreak of war.

“There could not be a better example of how to re-establish a reputation that urgently needed it,” the judges of the Berger Prize in a statement about Llewellyn’s work, adding that it is “a triumph of rehabilitation that will open up a whole group of neglected artists for future study”.

Christopher Le Brun, president of the Royal Academy of Arts, presented the prize at a reception in London on November 30.

Winifred Knights was a promising artist in her youth but her works had fallen out of the public eye until a new book on her life and work was published last year. Photo cour-tesy of the Estate of Winifred Knights.

The Marriage at Cana, 1923, in the Collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Edge of Abruzzi, Boat with Three People on a Lake, (1924-30), private collection.