Privately Held

Winifred Knights (1899 - 1947)

Self-portrait, 1920

SKU: 7555
Pencil on paper

Size:
Height – 18cm
Width – 15cm

DESCRIPTION

Provenance:
Given by the artist to Marjory Allen of Hurtwood
Presentation:
framed

Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.269.

This self portrait dates to 1920 when Knights became the first women to win the Prix de Rome. Knights gave it  to her friend Marjory Allen, Baroness Allen of Hurtwood, Colin Gill’s sister, after Marjory had  accompanied Knights and Gill’s  on an expedition in the countryside north west of Rome, followed by visits to Viterbo, Orvieto, Assisi, Perugia and Florence. 

(Marjory was an English landscape architect and promoter of child welfare. In 1921 she married Clifford Allen, a leading member of the Independent Labour Party who had been imprisoned as a conscientious objector in World War I. Marjory Allen worked as a landscape architect throughout the 1920s and 1930s and was elected the first fellow of the Institute of Landscape Architects in 1930).

During Knights’ first few months at the British School, Colin Gill introduced her to Rome and its historic sites and monuments, and together they attended fancy-dress balls, the Russian Ballet and Opera, visited flower markets, ate in Gill’s favourite restaurant at Trajan’s Forum and made trips to Tivoli and the seaside. 

Knights had striking features and portraits of her were made by Colin Gill, Arnold Mason, and  Tom Monnington, amongst many, and  portrait busts by sculptors David Evans, Professor Gerard, and Alfred Hardiman, 

Arnold Mason, Portrait of Winifred Knights, 1919

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THE ARTIST

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.

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Study for St Martin altarpiece, angel from the waist down
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