Sunday, 17 July 2016

Winifred Knights

Copyright the Estate of Winifred Knights 
If you've ever wondered about the artist of the compelling painting The Deluge [of which the above is a compositional study]  then the exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery is the place to go - before 18 September.  As well as the actual Deluge, it contains several more large-scale works - not many, as Knights's production was not prolific, perhaps because so carefully considered and prepared, but a very rewarding number that absorb one's attention.

UCL Art Museum London
They include this image, described as  Village Scene with Millhands, as if it belonged with Lowry. as indicted by the associated studies and captions, the setting is based on buildings at or near on the Herts'-Essex border, where, all along the rivers Lea and Stort there were grain mills and breweries supplying London's beer; and while some of the figures do represent villagers, most were drawn from Knights' acquaintance, with herself just behind the woman with the red jacket.  For Knights shared with Stanley Spencer - also trained at the Slade - the device of including contemporary yet timeless figures and groups without socio-historical realism.   Place and people are incidental to picture-making, even though landscape, buildings and figures are firmly positioned and delineated.
Copyright Estate of Winifred Knights

Homage to Piero della Francesca infuses the painting of La Santissima Trinita,  According to the exhibition, this has a narrative behind it, which is however irrelevant to the strange and wondrous image of Italian women resting beside a lake of sorts, with the dry hills of central Italy in the distance.  In this image, the colours are not wholly true, but one can glimpse the glow that marks the reclining figures in a dream-like landscape.  It's a miraculous piece, even more commanding than The Deluge through its stasis.

So a relatively small and extremely satisfying display.

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