Dame Laura Knight

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Alt text: Painting of emigrants aboard a ship
Alt text: Detail of a painting of emigrants on a ship

Dame Laura Knight
British, 1877-1970

Emigrants, 1923
Oil on canvas
25 x 30 inches (63.5 x 76.2 cm)
Framed: 32 x 37 inches (81.2 x 94 cm)
Signed Laura Knight
Inscribed on the reverse July 1923 – no. 37 N.E.

Painted circa 1922-23, this work was based on sketches and a finished watercolor of the same subject made  during the artist’s first voyage to America on the Olympic in 1922. Laura Knight had been invited by Homer Saint-Gaudens, the Assistant Director of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, to be one of two  European representatives on the Jury of Awards for that year’s International Exhibition of Paintings. The other  European member was the French painter, Lucien Simon, with whom Knight traveled on her Atlantic crossing.  Both artists made many studies on the voyage, mainly of emigrants on the lower deck.

The watercolor study for the present work, which similarly depicts a view looking aft from the promenade deck  into the steerage, was exhibited at the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolors in 1923. It was also illustrated in  Laura Knight: A Book of Drawings, published in the same year with a foreword by Charles Marriott.

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