Dame Laura Knight’s Cornwall
Lamorna Cove, Cornwall
One famous of Britain’s and prolific most artists, Dame Laura Knight was born in 1877 in Derbyshire. At the tender age of 13 she won a scholarship to Nottingham School of Art, where she met fellow student Harold Knight. In 1903 they married and, four years later, moved to Newlyn in Cornwall.
Laura began to develop her own realist style, painting daily alongside some of the finest painters of the time, including Alfred Munnings, Stanhope Forbes and Lamorna Birch. Lamorna Cove was the last major landscape that Laura painted before she left Cornwall in 1919. “Fond memory tells of the beauty of line and colour seen daily during the warmer months from my painting hut on the Cornish coast,” she said.
Laura loved to paint circus performers, gypsies and dancers, too. She was the only woman to receive war commissions and, at the age of 70, painted her famous account of the Nuremberg war trials. She became Dame Laura Knight in 1929 and was elected a full member of the Royal Academy, the first woman to receive this honour. Her work featured at the Royal Academy for 67 years and she exhibited worldwide until her death in 1970, aged 92.
A five-mile walk follows the South West Coast Path from the fishing harbour of Mousehole to Lamorna Cove. On a sunny day, the scene is just as Knight portrayed it in her painting – a curved rocky shore, lapped by the glistening turquoise sea.
Where to see the art: The National Portrait Gallery, London until 13 October 2018. Her work can also be seen at Penlee Gallery, Penzance.
Sue Kittow is the author of the Walks in the Footsteps of Cornish Writers series.