20th Century British Art
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Winifred Knights (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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