Dame Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) is one of Britain’s greatest leading female
artists. Knight is celebrated for her depictions of theatre and circus performers,
as well as her portraits of women and children. We are delighted to be offering
three works on paper by the artist in our upcoming 19th & 20th
Century Paintings, Works on Paper and Sculpture sale taking place on Tuesday 23 November at 2pm.
In 1919 Laura Knight moved from Cornwall to London where she was invited
backstage by the great impresario Sergei Diaghilev during the third season of his
Ballets Russes. This new subject matter absorbed and fascinated Knight and she
attended every show ,capturing the intimate backstage rituals of the performers.
She was embraced by the ballerinas and given an intimacy that a male artist
would not have been permitted. Laura painted many of the leading ballet stars at
the time including Nijinsky, Karsavina, Lopokova, Massinme and Pavlova.
Lot 70 'The Golden Cloak', Diaghilev Ballet, backstage is one of a series of works
that Knight executed of the Bballets Russes. At the right of the composition is a
ballet dancer in costume, gracefully stretching in preparation for her
performance. The shadowed background hints at the unseen buzz of anticipation
beyond. One can almost sense the excited murmur of the audience taking their
seats and the tuning of the orchestra.
Lot 71. In the wings is one of the many sketches that Knight drew whilst behind
the scenes at the ballet. The work is charming and almost humorous and depicts
the inner sanctum of the performers’ world.