Deluge' was the prescribed subject for the 1920 British School at Rome
Scholarship in Decorative Painting. The Scholarship rules required that
the painting was produced in oil or tempera, together with a cartoon,
both of which were to be executed in eight weeks. Winifred Knights
commenced work on July 5th 1920 and despite losing time through illness
was judged the winner, news of which she received on 21st September
Knights presented Eleven Shaw, (Secretary of the British School at Rome), with a sketch book inscribed My Book of Studies, for the Rome Scholarship,
1920 (collection Catherine Meeson), which contains numerous studies for
the painting. The artist's mother modelled for the central figure
carrying the baby and Arnold Mason for the male figure beside her and
the man shinning up the hill. The artist portrayed herself as the figure
to the centre right of the foreground. According to Eileen Palmer the
Flood water was modelled on Clapham Common.
A squared watercolour for
`The Deluge' is in the College Art Collections, University College
London (Palmer Gift no. 73), together with two early compositional
studies on tracing paper (Palmer Gift no. 76/77). The Cartoon for the
picture was sold at Christie's, 14 October 1987, (lot 1 z9) and is now
in the collection of the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Museum of Decorative and
Propaganda Art, Miami, Florida.
Winifred Knights (1899-1947)
Painter and draughtsman, born in London, married to the artist Walter Thomas Monnington. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Art, 1915-17 and 1918-20. Her teachers included Henry Tonks and Fred Brown and she personified the Slade School tradition under their reign. In 1919 she won the Slade Summer Composition Prize (for Mill Hands on Strike) and the following year the coveted Rome Scholarship. She remained in Rome 1920-25, marrying fellow Rome Scholar Thomas Monnington in April 1924. One of her principal works was The Marriage at Cana for the British School at Rome, now in the National Gallery of New Zealand in Wellington. The Tate Gallery also holds her work, including her iconic winning entry for the Rome Scholarship, The Deluge, 1919. Knights died in London at the age of 48.
Had Knights produced more during her relatively short life she might well today be considered among the major women painters of the twentieth century.
Selected literature: Paul Liss, Winifred Knights, The British School at Rome/Fine Art Society plc, 1995
See all works by Winifred Knights