signed l.r.: Harold Knight; signed, titled and inscribed on a old label attached to the stretcher: The Girl and the Picture/ Harold Knight/ Oak Hill/ St. Buryan/ Cornwall
oil on canvas 80,000—120,000 GBP
In the present work the young woman gazing out of the window recalls William Orpen’s The Window, 1901 (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin), a painting shown at the New English Art Club, but which has its roots in Victorian illustration. From 1909 to 1911 Knight’s most frequent model was Edith Florence Carter-Wood, a young woman who had come to Cornwall as a student of
Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, and who was shortly to marry Alfred Munnings. Unlike ‘portrait interiors’ of the wealthy by Orpen and John Lavery, Knight’s rooms are comfortable but Spartan. In this context we may recall the Danish painter Wilhelm Hammershoi whose cool, tonal interiors were occasionally shown in London exhibitions in the Edwardian years. However in Knight, an element of stylish rusticity remains, undoubtedly reflecting the spacious farmhouse at Lamorna known as Trewarveneth, which he and Laura rented before their removal to Oakhill – a single house converted from three cottages by the local squire, Colonel Paynter. Deep window recesses and unpapered walls indicate Cornish stone structures rather than modern brick-built townhouses. The effect of Knight’s ‘modern life’ upon fellow Newlyn painters such as Harold Harvey – particularly in works such as The Blue Gown, 1917 (private collection) – was immense.