Oil Paint and Grease Paint
Dame Laura Knight
Ivor Nicholson & Watson Limited, London, March 1936; 1st edition February 1936, reprinted March 1936.
Hardback; 165 x 235 mm; dark red boards with red titles on a white background on spine; xii & 397 pages. Only the torn front cover and flap of the dust jacket remains. Forty-seven monochrome illustrations reproducing Knight’s work.
The book is in fair condition. The binding is sound but the book is slightly cocked. The spine is seriously faded, scuffed, and discoloured, bumped, and with a chip at the top where a small piece has been lost. There is a circa 11 cm split where the spine joins the back cover. Discoloration extends to the tops of the covers with a few marks on the remainder of the front and back covers. The bottom left corner of the back cover has been bumped. The top edge of the leaves has been coloured red to match the boards. Tanning and foxing is visible on the other edges when the book is closed. The endpapers are tanned. There is a tear at page 181/182, and slight smudges on page 247.
Dame Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) was an English artist who worked in oils, watercolours, etching, engraving, and drypoint. She was a painter in the figurative, realist tradition who embraced English Impressionism. In her long career she was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain. In 1929 she was created a Dame, and in 1936 became the first woman elected to the Royal Academy since its foundation in 1768. Her large retrospective exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1965 was another first for a woman. Although she was known for painting amidst the world of the theatre and ballet in London, and for being a war artist during World War II, she was also greatly interested in, and inspired by, marginalised communities and individuals, including Gypsies and circus performers. Her success in the male-dominated British art establishment paved the way for greater status and recognition for women artists.
This is the first of Dame Laura Knight’s autobiographies and it became a best-seller, with four hardback editions, followed in 1941 by a Penguin paperback printing. In it she recounts struggles against poverty and failure, tragedy and yet with bright shafts of humour. It is unfortunate that her artwork is reproduced here only in monochrome. Nonetheless this book will undoubtedly appeal to those interested in hearing from the artist herself, one of the most important women artists of her times and ours.