British, 1877-1970

"Winter, Figures Skating (Winter)", 1916

oil on canvas
signed lower left "Laura Knight"
25 x 30 inches

  • Provenance: Sotheby's, London, June 10, 1998, lot 88; Private Collection, New York, New York.
  • Notes: This work is included in the Catalogue Raisonné of the artists' works, currently being compiled by R. John Croft FCA, great nephew to the artist. We are grateful to Mr. Croft for his assistance cataloging this lot.

    Framed dimensions: 32 3/4 x 37 3/4 x 2 1/4 inches

    Recognized as the most prodigious female artist of her generation, Laura Knight elevated the status of female artists through her talent and determination. Banned from life drawing classes, she had to work from nude plaster casts at the Royal Academy. In 1913, she painted Self Portrait with Nude, depicting herself painting with a nude model. This caused controversy and was rejected from the Royal Academy and described by critics as ‘vulgar.' For Knight, it was a chance to open the dialogue of how women artists were being treated as outsiders. She persevered and in 1965 became the first female artist to be the subject of a large-scale retrospective at the Royal Academy. The painting is now considered one of her masterpieces.

    Knight was born in Derbyshire in 1911, the youngest of three daughters. Her father abandoned the family, burdening them with further financial problems. She was sent to live with relatives in France before their financial troubles forced her to return home. Knight's mother was a teacher at the Nottingham School of Art and enrolled Laura, at no cost, in classes at the age of 13. Knight's talent was evident and she won a gold medal in a national competition. At 15, her mother was diagnosed with cancer and Knight took over her mother's teaching responsibilities.

    At age 17, Laura met Harold Knight at the School of Art. She copied his technique as a way to learn painting herself. The two became friends and married in 1903. Together the artist couple traveled visiting the artists working in the Netherlands at the Hague School in Laren. In 1907, the couple moved to Cornwall and became central figures in the Newlyn School artists colony. During this time, Knight painted in an increasingly impressionist style. She found support in the colony and was able to paint from nude models and en plein air.

    Shortly before painting the present lot, Knight had broken her leg. She and her husband were staying with their good friends Bernard (1874 - 1941) and Annie Walke, an artist from the Newlyn School, at their home St Hilary, Cornwall. In her autobiography Oil Paint and Grease Paint Knight writes that the painting was made from drawings whilst sitting in a borrowed old bath chair that Bernard Walke "trundled" her around in every day to a pond where children were skating and sliding.

    In the foreground, she depicted where the young ice skaters had discarded their jackets and shoes onto the bank of the pond when they had put on their skates. A skater rapidly passes by two children who have taken a tumble with perhaps one of their parents carefully watching over them on the far bank.

    From the drawings made at the same time, the artist also painted Ice Hockey, 1917, an oil on canvas, depicting a game of ice hockey being played by two local teams on a nearby pond, and The Frozen Pond, another oil on canvas that was purchased by Sir William Longstaff for the New South Wales Museum and Art Gallery, Australia.

    Tags: oil painting, listed artist, female artist, woman artist, children, snow, hockey
  • Condition: overall excellent condition; unlined canvas; no restoration apparent under UV

    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE. 

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