Liss Llewellyn Fine Art - 20th Century British Art

Winifred Knights (1899-1947)   BIOGRAPHY

The Santissima Trinita
(ref: 7483)
Oil on canvas


Provenance: Private Collection

‘Tomorrow morning I am going right up into the mountains with a mule and a very beautiful cover & some Anticoli peasants to see a miracle which happens every year, at Valle Pietra, in the Abruzzi.’ (Letter from Knights to her Aunt, 1923).

The subject of this painting relates to a pilgrimage that Winifred Knights made to the Sanctuary of the Santissima Trinità in Vallepietra. Inspired by Thomas Ashby, the Director of the British School at Rome, Knights became fascinated by the people and the landscape of the Lazio region, and especially by the village festivals. The painting records female peasants from Anticoli Corrado resting in the lower Aniene valley during the procession to the sanctuary. When the painting was shown, unfinished, at the Art of the Empire exhibition at the Imperial Galleries in 1927, the critic P. G. Konody considered it to be ‘the greatest attraction of the whole exhibition’.

Sacha Llewellyn Winifred Knights 1899-1947 (London: Lund Humphries in association with Dulwich Picture Gallery, 2016)
Winifred Knights 1899-1947 (exh. Catalogue The Fine Art Society PLC and Liss Fine Art in Association with the British School at Rome 1995, p. 55)

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

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