The Friends of Dame Laura Knight Society,
Mr Russell opened his presentation stating how he
wished to explore and provide an insight into how two
accomplished artists in a marriage might have changed or
influenced each other’s work. His first example
was that of Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, whom, after
working together in Europe returned to England then
eventually to Lamorna (having been influenced in
Brittany by the strong clear light) to set up a school
for artists. They were promoting a tradition in
Europe of “Plein Air” ie “painting an outdoor scene in
the outdoors”, made more accessible by the new
development of having paint in portable tin tubes.
Mr Russell explained that whilst Stanhope produced some
memorable works (Fish Selling on a Cornish Beach) his
style didn’t really evolve; rather it became static,
which eventually leads to his decline in popularity.
Elizabeth’s work, on the other hand, grew in both style
and stature, though there remained some debate about
whether Stanhope prevented her from continuing with her
etching or that the equipment was too complicated to set
up in the small village.
It was mooted that both Stanhope and Harold Knight were
greatly influenced by Vermeer, both in style and
composition as Mr Russell progressed from the Forbes’ to
Harold and Laura Knight. He drew parallels between
Harold and Stanhope in that both were internationally
recognised and successful, yet equally their style did
not evolve or significantly change. Certainly true
in comparison to Laura, who embraced the artistic and
intellectual stimulation of Lamorna, now an established
artists’ colony. This Mr Russell emphasised by comparing
two paintings each of the same subject: Ethel Bartlett.
Harold’s was softer in focus showing a relaxed (or
“yielding”) quality of expression, whilst Laura’s
portrait projected a thoughtful and intelligent
character in a somewhat pensive pose.
Mr Russell then gave brief mention to Harold and
Gertrude Harvey whom, whilst the careers of both Laura
and Dod were progressing, were developing their own
talents. Through modelling for Harold and Laura Knight,
Gertrude soon became an accomplished painter in her own
right, eventually exhibiting at the Royal Academy.
Harold’s work began as “classical”, (though accused by
some critics of being “solidified”) in style, changing
to a more sculptural form, again perhaps partly
influenced by Picasso.
|- Michael Johnson, Society Archivist|