Lot 4
  • 4

Daniel Ridgway Knight

150,000 - 200,000 USD
314,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Daniel Ridgway Knight
  • Coffee in the Garden
  • signed Ridgway Knight and inscribed Paris (lower right)
  • oil on canvas


James Graham & Sons, Inc., New York
Mr. and Mrs. Robert W. Purcell (acquired from the above in October 1969)
Thence by descent through the family


Ithaca, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; New York, Christie's; St. Petersburg, Florida, Museum of Fine Arts; Memphis, Tennessee, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, A Pastoral Legacy, Paintings and Drawings by the American Artist Ridgway Knight and Aston Knight, May 5, 1989-February 28, 1990, no. 26

Catalogue Note

With study at the École des Beaux-Arts and an early trip to Barbizon, the American-born Ridgway Knight gained a deep appreciation for the academic modeling of figures and painting en plein air.   Such early training was the foundation for a celebrated oeuvre, including works like Coffee in the Garden, in which a group sits around a simple table on cane-bottom chairs and stools as a boy brings out a coffee pot to fill their porcelain cups.  A lidded tureen, ladle, and stack of shallow bowls wait on a carved-wood table.  Together with the empty bottles and broken loaf of bread, they suggest a meal about to be served, or perhaps already enjoyed.  Ridgway Knight combines these various objects of daily life with other well-painted details, from the mix-matched flower boxes set in a shallow balcony to the rough plaster surface of the home's walls, to invite the viewer to interpret the subtle narrative.  Such genre scenes earned the artist the attention of collectors through Europe and the United States.  Ridgway Knight was equally celebrated for his compositions of a single peasant girl often glancing dreamily in the distance as she carries water or cultivates flowers (see lot 11).  The models for these works, many resembling the women of Coffee in the Garden, came from the area around Ridgway Knight's home in Poissy, a rural town outside Paris, and later in Rolleboise, his home in the 1890s. The present work may have been painted around 1900 as it incorporates many of the elements of the artist's work refined over decades.

Ridgway Knight's paintings continued to be popular in the twentieth century, particularly in America.  By 1969, Coffee in the Garden joined works by Jean-Baptiste-Camille-Corot (see lot 88) and Impressionist works in the collection of  Robert W. Purcell (1912-1991), a prominent New York lawyer, businessman and philanthropist.  A graduate of Cornell University (Class of 1932), Purcell served on its board of trustees from 1959 to 1978 (as chairman from 1959-1981) and was one of its most generous donors (the campus' Robert Purcell Community Center was named in his honor).  Purcell's appreciation for Ridgway Knight and his commitment to his alma mater came together as he lent the present work in 1989 to one of the largest exhibitions of the artist's work, the first venue being the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University.