February 11, 2014 NSR Admin

Art Review: Laing Gallery Laura knight Portraits


This exhibition at the Laing featuring Laura knight’s Portraits is well worth a visit. It completely exceeded my expectations with a wide array of impressive subject matter spanning the pioneering 20th century artists career. Dame Laura knight was celebrated in her lifetime and had a very long successful career. The exhibition brings together Knights tender portraits of her gypsy friends as well as those works inspired by ballet and theatre.

The exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery has been carefully split into three sections following her works chronologically and starting off with her early work in Cornwall. The first room also has her studies of gypsies, sildenafil hospital patience, rx circus performers and dancers. These were amongst some of my favourite spanning a variety of subject matter but also styles with a large very impressionistic painting to the right as soon as you walk in, rather reminiscent of the likes of Van Gogh with her brush marks. This was quite different to her ‘usual’ style that has a much smoother application of paint. There was also some studies of segregated patients in an American hospital, these tender portraits appeared surprisingly modern.

The next room featured large paintings documenting the war such as ‘The Dock, Nuremberg’ where she documented the Nuremberg trial. Knight was a highly gifted painter, largely using oils and her successful career did much for gaining recognition for women in the creative arts, yet another reason why this exhibition was so refreshing! The final room included some work by her husband Harold who had a much more impressionistic style with a soft romantic quality beautifully capturing light in fleeting moments. For me knight seemed completely ahead of her time, I really was surprised to see how early her paintings dated, born in 1877 she worked right up until 1970 aged 93!! The paintings that stood out especially for me are those in the first room, the more traditional study of a nude and self-portrait as well as the paintings of black subjects in the hospital. It only costs four pounds and you can come back as many times as you like that day, I would highly recommend a visit before it ends!!

Running from 2 November to 16th February.

Alice Craigie