Lot 7
  • 7

Daniel Ridgway Knight

150,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Daniel Ridgway Knight
  • Burning Brush
  • signed Daniel Ridgway Knight, inscribed Paris and dated 1884 (lower right)
  • oil on canvas
  • 46 1/2 by 58 in.
  • 118.1 by 147.3 cm


Boussod, Valadon et Cie., Paris 
Knoedler & Co., New York (no. 4643, acquired September 4, 1884) 
Mrs. Mary J. Munsil, Hartford, Connecticut (1884)


Probably, Harold T. Lawrence, "Daniel Ridgway Knight, Painter," Brush and Pencil, January 1901, vol. 7, no. 4, p. 201

Catalogue Note

After Ridgway Knight’s first artistic successes in Paris, Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissioner invited him to move to Poissy, a rural town not far outside the city limits. The renowned Meissonier was impressed with Ridgway Knight's talent and offered his protégé advice and a challenge: to paint a large picture from a recent sketch.  Ridgway Knight boldly met his mentor's goal, and the resulting painting of 1875, Les Laveuses (sold in these rooms April 25, 2006, lot 142) set him in a new direction, informing a series of ambitious and complex multi-figural compositions, like Burning Brush, which firmly established his international fame.

As a proponent of painting en plein air, Ridgway Knight closely studied natural light and his masterful technique can be seen in the present work as he effectively depicts the flat overcast sky of autumn. The burning of field weeds took place after the harvest, when the gleaners had completed their foraging. The event signaled the coming of winter, as illustrated by the peasants' heavy clothing. In Burning Brush, each detail of the landscape, field workers' costumes and gestures are carefully described to suggest how the efforts of "simple" tasks affected the women of Poissy. Ridgway Knight was also influenced by the works of Jean-François Millet and, while painting in Barbizon in 1874, he visited the artist. However, Ridgway Knight was not seduced by Millet’s realist view of rural farm life, choosing instead to depict his peasants in more cheerful circumstances. Such an idealization of the rural laborer followed themes established earlier in the nineteenth century and popularized by Ridgway Knight's contemporaries, such as Jules Breton and even William Bouguereau. In fact, the subject and composition of Burning Brush evokes Jules Breton's masterful Salon entry of 1869, Les Mauvaises Herbes (sold in these rooms, April 23, 2004, lot 28), which Ridgway Knight may have known through a commonly reproduced etching.