The Green Sea, Lamorna, estimate £250,000–350,000.
LONDON - I don’t read modern biographies but if I were to recommend an autobiography to someone who wanted a wonderful story, well-written and full of life, it would be Oil Paint and Grease Paint by the painter Dame Laura Knight.
The way she wrote is the same as the way she painted, with swathes of bright colour, energy and light-heartedness. A famous artist in her day, well-known for her circus and theatre scenes, her best pictures were those painted in Cornwall around 1912. They depict those rare idyllic moments when the British coast is the most beautiful place to be, when one can sit on a cliff-top bathed in summer sun with only the sound of the waves and the seabirds breaking the silence.
Knight’s work has experienced a reawakening in recent years, not least after Sotheby’s sold Wind and Sun for close to £1,000,000 in 2009. There has also been a major exhibition of her work at Penlee House in Cornwall and another planned by the National Portrait Gallery this summer.
However, it will probably be the film Summer in February (for release in June), telling the story of the triangular romance between Laura and her husband Harold and the dashing painter of horses Alfred Munnings, that will make her a household name again. She deserves her reestablishment as one of the most remarkable painters of her generation and gender. Set before WW I, this period film will highlight the bohemian colony of artists that flourished on the wild coasts of Cornwall in the early 20th century.
Dame Laura Knight’s The Green Sea, Lamorna, painted on the very Cornish cliffs where the drama of Summer in February is played out, will be on offer at the British and Irish Art sale, on 23 May at Sotheby’s London. All are welcome to come to see the painting at its presale view in London from 19 May and perhaps some will be inspired to read her biography or watch the film.