WINIFRED KNIGHTS (1899-1947) AND EARLY-TWENTIETH-CENTURY BRITISH MODERNISM, WITH A CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ
Pressly, William L
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While largely forgotten until the present day, Winifred Knights (1899-1947) was one of Great Britain's most profound early-twentieth-century artists. As an artist working during the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s in England, Knights embraced a dual role as both one of a distinctively English tradition of figurative modernism, and one deliberately rooted in the broader historical and specifically Trecento and Quattrocento Italian traditions. This dissertation closely analyzes the five major paintings that are at the heart of Knights's oeuvre in order to understand her contributions to the complex and multivalent nature of British Modernism, particularly during the years surrounding the First World War. In addition, this dissertation defines the entire body of Knights's oeuvre (fifteen paintings in oil, one painting in tempera, and 1,137 works on paper), in order to understand the fundamental role that preparatory drawing played in her compositional process. This dissertation will demonstrate how Knights's visionary paintings are all about the artist, but this is not hubris. She is instead connecting on a personal level with Christianity and, in the process, inviting the viewer to share in her vision that is as personal and spiritual as Stanley Spencer's imagery. The theme of resurrection runs throughout the series of Winifred Knights's paintings, present in the Ark floating in the background of The Deluge; the glasses of wine in The Marriage at Cana which symbolize the Eucharist and Christ's blood; the act of pilgrimage in The Santissima Trinità in order to, as Knights wrote, "have their sins washed away"; and the resurrection of a baby in Scenes from the Life of Saint Martin of Tours. Please note that throughout this dissertation, "WKCR" stands for "Winifred Knights Catalogue Raisonné." Each catalogue entry has a unique WKCR number.