54
54

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Dame Laura Knight, R.A., R.W.S.
THE MAIDEN
JUMP TO LOT
54

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Dame Laura Knight, R.A., R.W.S.
THE MAIDEN
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

|
London

Dame Laura Knight, R.A., R.W.S.
1877-1970
THE MAIDEN

Provenance

Purchased directly from the artist in 1931 by Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada;
Deaccessioned from Vancouver Art Gallery, 1950;
Alex Fraser Galleries, Vancouver;
Private collection, Vancouver and thence by descent to private collection, Salt Spring Island;
Private collection, U.K.;
Their sale, Tennants, 18 July 2015, lot 770, where purchased by the present owner

Exhibited

Vancouver, Vancouver Art Gallery, Opening Exhibition, 1931, no.23

Literature

Laura Knight, Oil Paint and Grease Paint, London, 1936, illustrated p.227

Catalogue Note

The human figure always held a central place within Laura Knight's career - most emphatically seen when Knight boldly announced her arrival on the artistic scene with her Self Portrait, 1913 (National Portrait Gallery, London). In a male-dominated world, and when women were denied access to nude models, with this portrait Knight demonstrated her personal emancipation. In her career that followed, Knight's keen interest in diverse characters, often women and often from the margins of society, resulted in some of the most striking portraits of her generation. In paintings such as the present and comparables including Dawn (1933, Royal Academy Collection), Knight again defiantly celebrates the female form and her individual spirit. 

To add further poignancy to the painting, the sitter is Eileen Mayo D.B.E. R.A. (1906-1994), an artist and designer who worked in England, Australia and New Zealand. Recognised with a Dame-hood at the end of her life, her early life was marred with tragedy. In 1927, without family and in dire financial circumstances, she came close to drowning herself in the Serpentine. However, her fortunes were changed through her meeting with Laura Knight, who employed her as a model and subsequently appeared in many of her iconic paintings, Blue and Gold (1927), The Golden Girl (1927) and Dressing for the Ballet (1927). She also appears with Laura in the Pathé film 'Mrs Laura Knight - The Famous Artist' in 1927.

A strikingly, beautiful young woman, Eileen became much in demand in the 1930s by Laura's contemporaries, including Dod Proctor, Vanessa Bell, Mark Gertler and Duncan Grant, who described her as 'his muse'. The story of Eileen's dramatic turn in fortunes was told in an article in The Milwaukee Senitel 1st June 1928: 'Saved from suicide; snatched from existence worse than death - starving, friendless, discouraged, Eillen Mayo tells how she battled with despair and suddenly found herself surrounded with prosperity and fame, her portrait the centre of attraction in the Royal Academy exhibition in London.' In The Maiden, we see a liberated Eileen gloriously rendered under a Cornish blue sky. 

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

|
London