Knights, Winifred

(1899 – 1947)


SKU: 11126

Thinned oil on tracing paper

7 1/5 x 8 2/3 in. (18.3 x 22 cm)

Height: 18.3cm
Width: 22cm


The Artist’s family; Private Collection

Exhibited: Winifred Knight, The Fine Art Society, 1995, no 7 j

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, et al. Women Only Works on Paper. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p. 16.

Writing to her mother about Paradise from the artist’s colony of Anticoli Corrado (in the Latium) in 1921,
Knights stated, I haven’t thought about the figures properly, but I have all the landscape and all the colour . . .’
adding that she worked in the evenings partly because it is an evening effect, partly because it is too hot to
struggle up the hill to it in the day’.

Knights’ letters indicate that as the painting evolved it underwent several changes ‚Äì I keep on at my
composition, rubbing out, rubbing it out. I will get it right soon. It’s changed to the Annunciation now’. A few
months later Knights wrote: I have got another subject now, Abigail, same background’.

Paradise is untraced and may never have been completed. The planned size, which was identical to Knights’
Rome Scholarship winning entry, The Deluge, suggests that Knights intended to submit the painting to the
Rome School Faculty as her major first-year work.

The theme of Paradise is close in spirit to Knights’ Rome School chef-d’oeuvre, The Santissima Trinita (1924-
30), which depicts women resting in a field during a pilgrimage to the sanctuary at Vallepietra in the Lazio.
This study of a woman combing her hair was drawn and worked up in colour on tracing paper so that it
could be transferred to the final canvas. Thinned oil was used by Knights as an alternative to gouache and
allowed her to anticipate colour combinations as they would appear in the final painting.

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Knights, Winifred

1899 – 1947

Winifred Knights was born in Streatham, London in 1899. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art (1915’17, 1918’20 and 1926’27) . In 1919 she jointly won the Slade Summer Composition Competition with A Scene in a Village Street with Mill-Hands Conversing. In 1920, she became the first woman to win the Scholarship in Decorative Painting awarded by the British School at Rome. She remained in Italy until December 1925, marrying fellow Rome Scholar Thomas Monnington (1902’1976) in April 1924. On her return to England, Knights received a commission to paint an altarpiece for the Milner Memorial Chapel in Canterbury. A major commission for the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, on which she had been working for five years, remained unconcluded at her early death, aged 47.
Throughout her life, Winifred Knights produced work through which she explored women’s autonomy. Presenting herself as the central protagonist, and selecting models from her inner circle, she rewrote and reinterpreted fairy tale and legend, biblical narrative and pagan mythology. She was the subject of a retrospective exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2016.


Winifred Knights
Compositional study for The Flight into Egypt, circa 1938
Winifred Knights
Study for the Marriage at Cana with a self portrait, circa 1923
Winifred Knights
Portrait of Colin Gill, c.1921
Winifred Knights
Portrait Study of Colin Gill, c.1921
Winifred Knights
Study of a Seated Woman for The Santissima Trinita
Winifred Knights
Study of Lineholt Farmhouse Facade, c. 1932
Winifred Knights
Study for St Martin altarpiece, angel from the waist down
Winifred Knights
Study for Scenes from the Life of St Martin of Tours, circa 1929
Winifred Knights
Landscape study for Santissima Trinita, circa 1924