British Artists of the early Twentieth Century
British Art of the Inter-War period
The Newlyn School
Identity and Social Space
The Model and the Artist/Model Relationship
My thesis will examine the work of Dame Laura Knight from a contemporary perspective, considering how its central themes of feminism, gender and identity continue to hold relevance today, in line with current debate. Her paintings from 1913 to 1945 explore these issues, challenging traditional gender stereotypes and their associated preconceptions and misconceptions. Her work actively promotes female identity and will provide a firm basis from which my further research will develop. These works embody the core of her overall contribution to art history and deserve a long overdue re-evaluation, especially in the light of more relaxed attitudes and tolerances which prevail in modern times.
My initial observations suggest that very little has been written about Knight and existing material reflects a persistent temptation to affiliate her with other female artists of the period, or the Newlyn School. I will consult certain key authors (Morden, Fox, Dunbar, Gerrish Nunn, Broadley, Grimes, Collins, and Baddeley) whose work constitutes the current academic position on Knight and her work. By and large, Knight’s contribution to art history has been overlooked, or perhaps underestimated. She appears to have been written out of art history and is today a figure who has faded into obscurity. Whilst popular during the early 20th century, I feel that her professional identity has been subsumed by her marriage to fellow artist Harold Knight, and her primary association with the Newlyn School. There are, however, hidden depths to Knight’s work which art history generally overlooks. My focus will be on her achievements and her contribution to art history more widely, with specific attention to the topics of feminism, gender equality and identity.
My thesis will re-examine Knight’s work, removing her from the bracket of neglected women artists, and provide an enlightened appreciation of her oeuvre, in line with both contemporary art-historical and wider sociological debate.