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Winifred Knights (1899-1947):
Self Portrait inspired by a fashion plate, circa 1914
Framed (ref: 9318)
Pencil and watercolour
9 3/4 x 7 1/4 in. (24.7 x 18.4 cm)
Provenance: Private collection.
Literature: Llewellyn, Sacha, Winifred Knights, Lund Humphries, 2014, ill. p 19, fig 12
Before starting her training at the Slade Knights frequently copied fashion plates, projecting her own persona onto the the latest modes of dress. 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.