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Dame Laura Knight

DBE RA RWS (BRITISH 1877-1970)

§ DAME LAURA KNIGHT, DBE RA RWS (BRITISH 1877-1970) Property from a Private UK Collection DAME LAURA KNIGHT, DBE RA RWS (BRITISH 1877-1970) Circus horse signed Laura Knight ( lower left) black chalk and watercolour 23.5 x 30 cm (9 1/4 x 12 in) 'I have often tried to analyse the circus appeal. It is the display of indomitable courage that one sees and admires, an admiration inherent in the human race'. (Laura Knight, Oil Paint and Grease Paint, Autobiography of Laura Knight , London, 1936, p. 299) During her life-time it was her paintings of the circus for which Laura Knight was best-known. Knight first started painting and drawing circus scenes when a porter at Paddington station suggested that she go to a ‘real old-fashioned circus’ at the Agricultural Hall at Islington. In 1923 or 1924 Alfred Munnings introduced her to Captain Bertram Mills who had just started his world famous circus. Mills gave Knight permission to paint and sketch whatever caught her imagination in his circus and a year later she joined Harry Cameron's The Great Carmo circus where she was fully immersed into everyday circus life. Knight was captivated by the circus and the multitude of spectacles that it offered for sketching. During Laura Knight's time with the circus in the 1920s she sketched horses for the first time and excitedly described the opportunity, ‘I found a brave opportunity in Carmo’s stable tent – what a joy! Although four-footed, such an animal’s anatomy can be compared with that of the human body, and I did not lose any opportunity to learn all I could about something I had always wished to study. How I loved those beasts.’ (Laura Knight, The Magic of a Line: The Autobiography , London, 1965, p. 239).