Friday, 16 August 2013

Summer in February

Dame Laura Knight painter 1877 - 1970
This post has been sitting in my drafts for the last 6 months, but with the release of the film about some of the Newlyn artists this is perhaps a good time to show it. I am also on a mission to feature more women painters, and Dame Laura Knight is right up there as one of my favourites.
The film "Summer in February" is set in the stunning Cornish landscape where the colony of painters lived and worked at the beginning of the 20th century. The film is not on general release but can be seen in specialised cinemas and theatres. However, these are readily found on the internet, and when I did a search I managed to find a location within a reasonable distance of where we live. In the film Laura and her husband Harold feature prominently. If you have not been to Cornwall then this film will entice you to visit especially when you see the breathtaking shots of the sweeping sands of Porthcurno, and Lamorna Cove.
Self Portrait
Laura was born in my home county of Derbyshire to a family that struggled; her father died shortly after her birth. At Nottingham Art School she met Harold Knight - painter, her future husband, whose work she greatly admired.
In 1907 they moved to the artists' colony in Newlyn, Cornwall where she painted in an Impressionist style.
The Beach
The Beach was one of the first paintings Laura did when she moved to Cornwall. Typically depicting the Cornish beaches it was widely admired by other artists and also the general public.
At the end of the First World War, the Knights moved to London, where Laura met many of the famous ballet dancers of the day, some of her most admired work dates from this period.
The Ballet Shoe
The Dressing Room at Drury Lane
In 1929 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and in 1936 was the first women elected to the Royal Academy. During the second World War, she was made an official war artist, following which she also became the official artist at the Nuremberg Trials.
A Balloon Site, Coventry
Ruby Loftus screwing a Breech Ring
Take-Off: Interior of a Bomber Aircraft
The Nuremberg Trials
In the 1920s Laura was struck by the visual potential of circus life following a visit to Bertram Mills Circus in Olympia which then led on to her enthusiasm for painting gypsies.
Circus Matinee
With her gift of establishing friendships with her subjects she was invited to join a group of gypsies at their encampment on Iver Heath. Here she did several of her gypsy paintings considered remarkable for their unsentimental treatment.
Gypsies, Caravan and Pony
Romany Belles
Young Gypsies
Hop-Picking Granny Knowles - An Old Hand
Women interested in art, and women artists, have all too few role models - Laura Knight is one of the most inspiring.
all images courtesy BBC paintings website

62 comments:

  1. What an amazing painter. It looks like a visually stunning movie. Can't find anything about a release date for it in Australia but I'll keep my eyes open for it, I like the sound of it! x

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    1. This type of 'art film' doesn't seem to go on general release, the audience having a more specialised interest. We saw the film last night and it was shown in a small theatre rather than a cinema. They also previewed another film about Renoir which I was unaware of, but would like to see.

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  2. So exciting to see female artists work.
    I am awestruck with her work Rosemary. Most wonderful. I have never heard of her 'Laura Knight'.but i know her now. What amazing work she did. The radio officer or pilot in the plane. The children on the beach in cornwall.. I really really like her work.
    I will read up more about her. Can you imagine, what she heard at the Nurenburg trials.. gosh..!
    great post Rosemary.. loved it.
    val xx

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    1. Dear Val - I am so delighted that you enjoyed seeing Laura Knight's paintings.
      I love the way she has captured so many different situations involving the people of her day - many of the images being situations that we would be unlikely to see today. She had a great interest in people - people from all walks of life, who she befriended, and that comes across in her paintings.

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  3. Love her work, would be great to have one of her paintings. Clever lady.

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    1. I am really pleased that so far everyone has been really taken by her work - I am sure that it is possible to buy a reproduction of one of her works.

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  4. I liked so much her work ! She has painted many different moments and events of the life !I liked too the light and vivid colours and that she included in her painting the people doing something in the land or making their works !An interesting artist woman ! Thank you for sharing this !

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    1. Dear Olympia - whether painting old people, young people, or people from different walks of life she managed to capture the essence of who and what they were.
      I am pleased that you enjoyed her work.

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  5. I've seen the show at the NPG and it's very good. I've booked to go to a talk about her, too, in Sept, and am looking forward to that. Good to see some of her pictures which were not familiar to me.

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    1. Lucky you Jenny - I don't think that I will have the time to pop down to London. You would probably enjoy the film too - it features a little known story about Sir Alfred Munnings during his bohemian days in Lamorna, a tale that appears to have been airbrushed from his life story.

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  6. I am so glad that you have shared this post. I recently read about her in a Sunday paper, had not heard of her before and wanted to know more. I love her use of colour, and the way that the people in her paintings look so real that I feel as if I could speak to them. She was a great talent and a free spirit. I must make the effort to see this exhibition. Thank you! Minerva x

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    1. Dear Minerva - it has been very gratifying showing this post to so many bloggers who have enjoyed seeing her paintings. Her work is something that I have known and loved for many years. Apart from the fact that she was a brilliant painter of people, she was someone who empathised with her subjects, became their friend and got to know them well, and I think that this shows in her paintings.

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  7. I was only familiar with The Beach painting - her others are all new to me and quite spectacular.
    I've been watching the movie trailer - OMG I want to see this movie so much but can't find anything saying when it will be released in the US. I'll be checking constantly. We have two 'art theatres' in our neighborhood and I'm certain when it comes it will show up at one of them.

    Thanks for sharing the beauty - and the heads up for this movie.
    Hugs - Mary

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    1. Dear Mary - as you emanate from the west country I am sure that you would enjoy seeing the film. We managed to see it in a theatre not too far away where it was showing for 5 performances only. Because the film is of a specialised nature it does not appear to have gone on general release. It was first shown here in mid June so may travel to USA much later, may be even next year. The theatre gave a preview about a French film on Renoir which was released in 2012 in France and has only just arrived here - again another specialised film.
      So glad that you enjoyed the post, and do hope that you are feeling much better.

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  8. Wauw... that are beautiful paintings, the beach i like it the most, so nice.
    some paintings are so real, they looked like photo's.
    Have a nice weekend Rosemary.

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. Dear Inge - that painting does have popular appeal, I have seen it used on greetings cards. I have seen many of her paintings and there is not one that I do not like.

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  9. Dear Rosemary,

    Thank you for introducing me to the paintings of Dame Knight! It's interesting to see the evolution of her work, and I am especially struck by the image of the Nuremberg Trial, at once both journalistic and surreal. It's really a stroke of genius and I'm amazed that I haven't seen it before. Incidentally, my mother attended the Nuremberg Trials.

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    1. Dear Mark - when Laura and her husband moved to London there was a dramatic change in her painting from, the soft impressionistic style to a solid and definite use of paint. This more assertive approach, is nowhere more evident than in the bold self-portrait at the beginning of the post which is larger than life-size.
      I am pleased that you noticed the Nuremberg Trial painting which is her attempt to set the sombre bureaucratic atmosphere of the courtroom against the reality of a war torn nightmare outside.
      I wonder if your mother spoke about her experience at the Nuremberg Trials?

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    2. She did indeed. She said it was fascinating, but because every word was translated into several languages, there were many delays in the testimony. That tended to remove a lot the drama from what otherwise were very emotionally charged moments.

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    3. Thank you for that interesting little insight - when H worked for the UN, at their conferences everything was translated into 5 languages, but of course they had simultaneous translation.

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  10. What a discovery and what an extraordinary life this artist had ! My favourite is the top one. I like the way she blended in with the different periods in which she lived. And I totally agree with you about female artist role models; I wonder how many people would be able to name one or two women painters !

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    1. I hope that some of my blog friends will be able to name quite a few women painters when I have done a few more posts.
      The first painting is a great favourite of mine too. It could have been just another nude painting but because Laura has dramatically included herself in the painting wearing her stylish hat, and red jacket, it becomes a painting of a nude and a portrait of the artist too.

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  11. Rosemary, what an incredible woman this is! I must get to the Portrait Gallery to take a closer look. Your word - unsentimental - says it all. There seems no agenda other than the most immediate- that of the business at hand. These are really incredible, thank you.

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    1. I would love to be able to make the NPG exhibition but fear I will not have time - so lucky you Kate. I hope that you will enjoy what you see.

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  12. Rosemary, Laura's pictures are so lovely. What a contrast between the Beach and the pictures done during the war. I have always admired the pictures from the artists colony in Newlyn. I had already heard about the film and wondered why it hadn't been advertised at our local cinemas. Thank you for the informative post.
    Sarah x

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    1. If you are interested in seeing the film Sarah I am sure you will be able to find a location somewhere near to you from the internet. The film is about an unknown episode in Sir Alfred Munnings life, unknown that is until now. It is a tragic tale, but visually beautiful to watch.

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  13. How disappointing that the film will not go on general release! As soon as I heard about it I read the novel on which it was based - though this was not particularly good it is an interesting story. I love Laura Knight's paintings and looked forward to seeing the film. Thank you for this update - I shall try to track it down.

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    1. I wished that I had read the book as it is an episode in Sir Alfred Munnings life that I was unaware of. However, now you have said it is not particularly good I will not bother. I couldn't understand why the film was not advertised anywhere and so then resorted to the internet. I imagine that because of its limited appeal to the mass of people that is the reason it is being shown in small theatres and specialised cinemas.

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  14. What a wonderful artist you have shown in Dame Laura Knight - I have not heard of her, and my knowledge of the Newlyn school is scant, so it is a delightful find and a great post. All the paintings are very appealing, and she goes into quite a variety of situations all of which reveal something quite special. The self-portrait is an absolute winner, a fabulous painting. Having not heard of this film I enjoyed the trailer very much; I looked for an Australian release date without success, but we have two arthouse cinemas not far away. I'll certainly be watching out for it, and will read up on Laura, too.

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    1. Delighted that you enjoyed meeting Laura Knight, Patricia. She had a great curiosity and a desire to extend the boundaries of what was normally considered to be 'artistic'. She channelled her creative energy into her paintings, she was an undomestic person who said she couldn't even boil an egg. Mainly I should think because she had no interest in doing so.

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  15. Just recently discovered your blog - Love the your English Gardens - and reading of your travels-!
    What a Treat -! This post on Laura Knight a truly Inspiring Woman Artist - Her Self Portrait - my Favorite - Thanks so much for sharing-!

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    1. Thank you for your visit and your very kind comment which I appreciate. I must admit that if I could have one painting then that would be the one for me too.

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  16. I am so glad I am following your blog now, again such an interesting post this time about Laura Knight. I really cannot mention a favourite painting they are all so beautiful and bright. Thank you.

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    1. I am very happy that you are a follower and enjoying the posts Janneke. Most people that have commented on this post did not know anything about Laura Knight so it has been a pleasure to have discovered that everyone, so far, has enjoyed seeing her work.

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  17. Smashing post as usual Rosemary. Two outings, gallery and cinema duly added to my list.

    Jean x

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    1. Thank you Jean - unfortunately I don't think I can fit a trip in to the NPG to see the exhibition, but saw the film this week. It is about Sir Alfred Munnings and a sad story, unknown until recently, about him and a relationship. The Knights play a prominent role in the film.

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  18. Thank you for getting me acquainted(hope this is the right expression) with these beautiful and diverse paintings and this wonderful woman and artist I had never heard of Rosemary. Beautiful paintings and a remarkable woman!
    About the Mt Snowdon, we did both ;), train and hike, up by train, down on foot.
    Marian

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    1. Yes, that is the correct expression Marian, and beautifully put. Glad that you enjoyed seeing Laura's work.
      You had a wonderful day to be on Snowdon, as I am sure you can imagine, quite often it is shrouded in cloud on the top.

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    2. We have been so lucky with the weather on our one week trip to Wales. It was the first trip ever for us without one drop of rain. We are known in the family to have rain on every single trip we make and we had gotten used to it already ;) so Wales was a real treat, even if Great Britain is known as a country where it rains a lot. We certainly don't see it that way anymore ;)
      Marian

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    3. So please that the good luck gods were shinning down on you Marian for your families trip to Wales. We are a funny little country because it can be pouring with rain in one part of the country and just a few miles away not a drop will be seen. This year very little rain has fallen.

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  19. What a talent this lady had, the detail in the work is amazing! x

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing her paintings Suzy.

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  20. I've loved discovering about Laura Knight, Rosemary - thank you for sharing. I'm fascinated by her different styles and the Nuremberg painting is remarkable. I had heard about the film - and then I'd forgotten about it - but having watched the trailer I'm now very keen to see it!

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    1. I think that the Nuremberg painting is wonderful. It would have been so easy for her just to portray the courtroom scenes. However, to bring the outside depiction of the awfulness of war into the proceedings in such a dramatic way is inspired.

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  21. Dame Laura Knight is surely one of the most accomplished artists ever. I would love to see the film "Summer in February". Do you think that it might eventually be released for all of us to see.
    Thank you for introducing us to yet another fine and to me unknown artist.
    ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - I am not sure how these specialised 'art films' are distributed. I would have thought that it is likely to be shown in the USA. The little theatre we saw it in had a trailer for a French film about Renoir which was released in 2012 but it has only just reached our shores. This type of film is not universally popular, it is not what most of the general public are interested in watching. So pleased that you enjoyed seeing Laura's paintings.

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  22. Dear Rosemary,what an interesting post! Dame Laura Knight was a great artist!!!
    Her paintings are very beautiful!!!Exellent work!!!Thank you for sharing!
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Dimi...

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    1. Dear Dimi I have been so pleased with the reaction to everyone at seeing Laura's paintings. It was my pleasure to bring her to the attention of so many more people.

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  23. From pretty Impressionist children to industrial factory workers to colorful circus people, Laura was clearly an accomplished and versatile artist who felt comfortable painting portraits of all! I can almost feel the tension in the Nuremberg painting. Will search for Summer in February at our video store.

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    1. She was a remarkable women and painted right up until her death at the age of 93. Hope you are successful in finding a video of the film, but I should think that it will be a while yet until one is available - the film is only recently released.

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  24. Hello Rosemary, Thanks for introducing us to Laura Knight, I like the charm of her early paintings, and the subject interest of her later ones, but overall I prefer the early ones. I'll probably be noticing her work more often now that I am acquainted with her name and style.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - most of the paintings I have shown are from the early part of the 20th century up until the 1940s. She lived for another 30 years painting all of the time. She was always expanding and trying something new - she wasn't set in a mould like so many other painters.

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  25. Dear Rosemary,
    Thank you for another fascinating introduction-- Laura Knight's work is beautiful... I especially enjoyed her painting of the Nuremberg Trials-- on first glance it seemed like other courtroom scenes, but then that very evocative fading into the ruins--wow.
    Thank you once again, Rosemary!
    Warm regards,
    Erika

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    1. The way that Laura has included the aftermath of the arena of war in the court room painting is an inspired piece of work. She always went that extra mile to give her paintings an added dimension. Glad you enjoyed seeing her work Erika, she is a woman painter that I have long admired.

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  26. Impressionism is my favorite art, and I do writings about Cornwall. Would love to visit England again and go there. I fell in love with Cornwall through the writings of Rosamunde Pilcher.

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    1. Do hope that you will have the opportunity to visit Cornwall at some future date Sanda - I have only read Rosamunde Pilcher's Shell Seekers. She is now nearly 90 and lives in Scotland, but spent her childhood in Cornwall.

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  27. I do love your art posts, Rosemary, and I'm glad to see you featuring someone I think is a very under-rated artist. I often think her reputation would have been greater if she'd been a man, as there was too often (and is still?) an undertone of prejudice against women artists as somehow less serious and professional then men. These are wonderful paintings by any standards.

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    1. So pleased that you enjoyed this post about one of my favourite painters Perpetua - I think that it was very hard for women generally during her era, and she was probably one of the first women to put her career before having a family. She had no time for cooking and being domestic, all she wanted to do was paint. She was fortunate that her husband was always a great support to her.

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  28. I love Dame Laura Knight's work. A lot of it is featured on my Pinterest art boards. One of the many fun aspects of pinning is discovering 'new' painters. I think of the boards as my own little museums. For someone like me who doesn't get out much, it's the next best thing to being there. :)

    I love that 'Interior of a Bomber Aircraft'.

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    1. In the Interior of a Bomber Aircraft Laura has captured the preparations and tensions for the mission ahead - a brilliant piece of painting - my favourite is the self portrait. It could just have been a painting of another nude without Laura's flamboyancy being in the painting too - her jaunty hat and bright red jacket given it all an add dimension.

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  29. Dear Rosemary, I meant to add:...as are your gorgeous posts.

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