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Winifred Knights (1899-1947):
Self portrait in fancy dress, The American Academy masked Ball, 1921 (recto); interior designs (verso)
Mounted (ref: 3943)
Inscribed with various notes
Pencil , 8 1/2 x 6 in. (21.5 x 15 cm.)
The verso shows the British School at Rome dining room, decorated with garlands (probably devised) by Knights, where the ball was to take place.
As a Slade student, Knights cultivated a dress style based on purity and simplicity, in hand-spun and hand-woven cloth, combining elements drawn from Renaissance painting and “aesthetic dress” to create a compelling statement of feminine artistic identity. In Italy, she adopted a version of Italian peasant costume, subsequently retained all her life, consisting of ankle-length skirts of plain or checked cloth, coral necklaces and a broad-brimmed hat or headscarf.
Admired for her striking looks, Knights was portrayed by numerous painters and sculptors during her lifetime, including David Evans, Colin Gill, Alfred Hardiman, Arnold Mason, Ambrose McEvoy, Thomas Monnington and Mary Potter. In the major paintings produced by Gill and Monnington during their Scholarships at the British School at Rome, Knights is the principle figure and main source of inspiration. the Leonardo da Vinci-inspired hairstyle that became an essential characteristic of her artistic identity.