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Study Visit: Winifred Knights

There are still spaces available for the study visit this weekend at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London.

Winifred Knights was the most promising painter of her generation at a time when it was difficult for women to have a career in art. Her work embraced the new modernism of the early 20th century together with the traditional concerns and draughtsmanship taught at the Slade School of Art. At that time the Slade was the most progressive art school in Britain and her predecessors included Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, Augustus and Gwen John, Wyndam Lewis and David Bomberg. It was also a school where “Instruction and opportunities are available on an equal basis to both sexes”, the Slade being the first art school to allow female students access to the life room.

She started out studying illustration but soon changed over to the Decorative Painting School where her success in this area led her to her become the first female winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome. Influenced by the Italian Quattrocento and the frescos of Piero della Francesca and Masaccio, her modern take on the old masters lead to many prestigious commissions, which she executed with great care and consideration.

At the Dulwich Picture Gallery the exhibition features her five major paintings, which are backed up with numerous drawings, preliminary cartoons and many compositional studies showing how the ideas develop from initial sketch through to the finished work. Her success however was short lived. Dying of a brain tumour at the early age of 47 meant that her position in British art was soon forgotten.

This is a fascinating exhibition for students of painting, drawing and art history or anyone interested in feminist art of the early modernist period. She has been hailed as an ‘unknown genius’ and with greater inclusion now a feature of art galleries presentations her reputation is now assured. Her painting ‘The Deluge’ takes pride of place at Tate Britain and at Dulwich there is a chance to see possibly her masterpiece, ‘The Santissima Trinita’ (1924-30).

There is more than just one strand in the story of art that passes for modernity in the last century and this is now beginning to be retold and represented. The study day this Saturday at the Dulwich Picture Gallery will introduce students to a neglected painter who reputation is now being reassessed and brought back into the light.

Bring your sketchbook, meet your fellow students and join tutor Jim Cowan for an educational study day at the Dulwich Picture Gallery on Saturday 2 July.

Please note as this is a ticketed event there will be a non refundable £10 booking fee for students, to reserve your place please complete this form or email enquiries@oca.ac.uk for more information.

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