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Friday 26 January 2024 – Trials and Tribulations – The life and works of Dame Laura Knight

Lecturer: Harry Fletcher

Laura Johnson was born in Derbyshire. Her father died not long after her birth and Laura grew up in a family that struggled with financial problems. At the age of 13 she entered the Nottingham School of Art and she was one of the youngest students ever to join the school. At school, Laura met one of the most promising students, Harold Knight, and at the age of 17 she determined that the best method of learning was to copy Harold’s technique. They became friends and married in 1903. In 1907, the Knights moved to the artists’ colony in Newlyn, Cornwall where Laura painted in an Impressionist style.
After World War One, they moved to London where Laura met some of the most famous ballet dancers of the day, such as Anna Pavlova, and produced many fine works. In 1929, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and in 1936 she became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy. During the Second World War, Laura Knight was an official war artist and after the war she was the official artist at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals. She continued to paint into the 1960s, produced over 250 works in her lifetime as well as two autobiographies and she died in 1970, aged 92. During my lecture I consider the major works of this excellent artist.