Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance
The artistic heart of West Cornwall's history

A View of Mousehole

Oil on canvas. The George Bednar Donation.

Harold Knight

1874 - 1961

A quiet and gentle man, Harold Knight was perhaps overshaddowed both in his personal life and his artistic career by his more flamboyant wife, Laura. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1937, the year after Laura had become the first woman ever to be elected.

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Biography

Harold Knight - 1874 - 1961

Harold Knight was born in Nottingham, the son of an architect, and studied at Nottingham School of Art under Wilson Foster. It was at the School of Art that he met his future wife, Laura Johnson, who he married in 1903. Harold was a quiet character who is largely remembered, unfairly, as an adept but unexciting painter, while Laura (later Dame Laura) was flamboyant in both her life and art and achieved greater public renown.

After spending time in Paris and then at Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast, Harold Knight moved to Newlyn, with Laura, in 1907. The couple mainly lived and worked in Lamorna, becoming key figures in the Lamorna group, and they remained in Cornwall until 1919.

During the First World War, Knight’s high principles led him to be a conscientious objector, which earned him the rebuke of many of his colleagues and former friends, and put a strain on his physical and mental health as he was forced to work as a farm labourer. When the War ended, he and Laura moved to London, although they frequently returned to Lamorna to paint.

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