Knights, Winifred

(1899 – 1947)

Study of a Seated Woman for The Santissima Trinita


Pencil on paper

1 in stock


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 drawing 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 drawing 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’.

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Knights, Winifred

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.


Compositional study for The Flight into Egypt, circa 1938
Study for the Marriage at Cana with a self portrait, circa 1923
Study for St Martin altarpiece, angel from the waist down
Study for Scenes from the Life of St Martin of Tours, circa 1929