Laura Knight moved to Cornwall in 1907 and began to paint a series of views of the coast, resplendent with bright colour and lit by radiant summer light which she continued to paint even after the Knights left Cornwall for London in 1919. The move to London allowed Laura's husband Harold to build up his portrait painting practice but they retained their two studios at Lamorna Cove and returned there for many years to paint throughout the summers. The war had passed and peace had returned to Britain and artists were again permitted to paint the coast, which had been forbidden during the conflicts for fear that the paintings might fall into enemy hands and be used for reconnaissance. Of all the subjects that Laura Knight painted, from the shimmer and spectacle of the circus and ballet scenes to the images of gypsy life and wartime, the coastal scenes painted in Cornwall have a timeless endurance that is as easy to relate to now as it was in the beginning of the twentieth century. The joy of being by the sea never fades and Knight's enthusiasm for Cornwall and its unique lighting effects never diminished. The present view of the wide stretch of beach at Sennen was exhibited in 1923 and is probably contemporary with an undated picture, Sennen Cove (sold in these rooms, 2 June 2004, lot 16). Whilst Knight sought to capture the industry and of the old fishing village from the hillside high above the sea in Sennen Cove with boats being hauled up on the beach and villagers going about their daily lives, Sennen Beach depicts a more leisurely scene, depicting children idling on the sands with their mothers, paddling in the shallows and making sand-castles. In the centre of the composition is a horse and cart, the driver sitting in its shade whilst the horse takes refreshment and a dog looks on in interest. The figures are captured with animation and perceptiveness and demonstrate Knight's ability to depict the realistic actions of those she observed. The little girl in the foreground, tentatively approaching a group of other girls sitting on the sea-wall who pretend not to notice her, shows Knight insight into the world of children.
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