Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) is a painter of almost celebrity status. She is most recognised as a painter of figures, but landscape was her first and last love. Laura Knight’s paintings continue to be enduringly popular with recent exhibitions including Laura Knight in the Open Air in 2012 at Worcester City Art Gallery.
Laura first visited Malvern in 1931 on the invitation of Barry Jackson who founded the Malvern Festival with playwright George Bernard Shaw. As war approached, Malvern became the Knight’s refuge. Laura Knight was bowled over by the landscape of the Malvern Hills. She borrowed a studio from Allardyce Nicoll, Professor of Theatre History at the University of Birmingham, and painted the local landscape and the local people.
This drawing, a pencil study of Nicoll with the view from the Malvern Hills behind him, is rooted in this story of Laura’s time in Malvern.
Worcestershire’s place as an inspiration for artists is neglected in comparison to the more famous British artist colonies. The lack of a Malvern landscape by Laura Knight was a real gap for the Worcester collection, as well as for other public collections, meaning acquiring this drawing was important for Worcester.
Thank you to the supporters who recently enabled Museums Worcestershire to acquire the drawing for the Worcester City museum collection:
The Art Fund
V&A/ACE Purchase Grant Fund
Friends of Museums Worcestershire
Friends of Dame Laura Knight, Malvern
And many other individual donors.