Winifred Knights (1899-1947):
Edge of Abruzzi; Boat with three people on a lake, 1924-30
Framed (ref: 927)
Signed on the reserved with initials and dated 1930
Oil on canvas
26 3/16 x 26 3/16 in. (66.5 x 66.5 cm)
Provenance: Sold by French Gallery to Stephen and Virginia Courtauld (1931). Given by Stephen and Virginia Coutauld to their niece and thence by descent; Bonhams Bath, 2007 lot 460 16.07.2007; Private collection
Exhibition: 'True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s & 1930s', National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1 July - 29 October 2017. Cat. 54. '50/50; Fifty British Women Artists 1900 – 1950', Worshipful Company of Mercers (3rd December 2018 - 23rd March, 2019); The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds (9th April, 2019 - 27th July, 2019).'For Real: British Realists from the 20s and 30s', Museum MORE, Gorssel (September 15th, 2019 – January 5th, 2020).
Literature; Patrick Elliot & Sacha Llewellyn; True to Life, British Realist Painting in the 1920s & 1930s, July 2017, ISBN 978 1 911054 05 4, Fig.20 and Cat. 54, page 22, 23 and page 99.
I had seen reproductions of Edge of Abruzzi; Boat with three people on a lake many times and had even visited Piediluco, the small town near Rome from where my mother drew her inspiration for this picture. But I only got to see the original artwork in 2016 when it formed part of the Winifred Knights exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
I returned to view it on several occasions, its immense beauty having a very powerful effect on me. Even when surrounded by many, many visitors I always fell under its quiet spell as it revealed yet another intricate detail. I feel sad and joyful at the same time that I have, at last, seen the painting ‘in the flesh’ – sad that I will probably never get to view it again, but happy that I have had the opportunity to study and enjoy this most wonderful work at close hand.
When I was a schoolboy, I was slightly aware of there being something exceptional about my mother, but I was totally ignorant of her true abilities. Now, at the end of my life, I am delighted to have learnt of her tremendous talent and been able to appreciate so much of her work, from childhood sketches through to her major pictures. She had just begun to paint again – after a twelve year hiatus – when she died so tragically young at the age of forty-seven.
Commentary by John Monnington (b.1934), a retired precision engineer. He is the son of Winifred Knights and Sir Walter Thomas Monnington (PRA), and acts as archivist of their works.