Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Winifred Knights (1899-1947)   BIOGRAPHY

Study for ‘Scenes from the Life of St Martin of Tours’, circa 1929
Framed (ref: 545)
Oil on tracing paper, pencil and wash, 5 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. (14 x 28.6 cm.)


Provenance: the artist’s estate; private collection since 1995
Literature: G.K.A. Bell, ‘The Church and the Artist’, The Studio, September 1942, vol. 124,
no. 594, p. 81

In a gilded flat section frame, with square outer moulding, glazed

Knights was commissioned to paint the Milner Memorial altarpiece for Canterbury Cathedral in 1928; she finished it some five years later in  1933. It was to be the last major work completed by Knights.

Bishop Bell, who was involved with commissions for religious works from numerous artists (including Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Augustus Lunn and Hans Feibusch), described the St Martin Altarpiece as ‘one of the most lovely, delicate and deeply felt modern religious paintings that I know’ (G.K.A. Bell,‘The Church and the Artist’, The Studio, September 1942, vol. 124, no. 594, p. 81).

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