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Louis Aston Knight


Gallery Database:


Louis Aston Knight (1873--1948).  Snowscape: 'Un Effet de Neige,' oil on canvas, 18 x 22, signed. See: Ithaca, NY, Cornell Univ., Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art,  A Pastoral Legacy: Paintings and Drawings by the American Artists Daniel Ridgway Knight and Louis Aston Knight, 5 May - 18 June 1989, no. 51.


Curator's Comments: 

Louis Aston Knight was the son of the American ex-patriot painter, Daniel Ridgway Knight. The father  was born in America and began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.  He was a classmate of both Cassatt and Eakins. In 1861, he went to Paris to study under Cabanel, but returned to Philadelphia in 1863 to serve in the Union Army.  In 1871 Ridgway Knight married Rebecca Morris Webster and returned to France. Tthe following year saw the birth of Louis Aston Knight. Ridgway Knight made a successful career out of peddling what American tourists of his day wanted to take home. His work is formulaic--an overdressed but attractive peasant maid or two always on a path along a stream and toting a jug, fagots, a basket of flowers--you name it. Unlike his father, Aston Knight was raised and educated in Europe. He began his artistic training, under the guidance of his father. Later he studied with  Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre. Aston Knight, it is said, stayed away from figures to pacify his father--but he too knew how to make a similar living by adding a dilapidated mill or cottage overgrown with trellised roses and other flowers to his landscapes--eventualy peasant girls made an appearance. The formula work was very popular, and in 1922, Pres. Harding purchased a Louis Aston Knight, to hang in the White House.

In 1894 Aston Knight debuted at the Paris Salon, starting a highly acclaimed career. Among his many awards, he won Gold medals at the Paris Salon in both 1905 and 1906, earning him the title Hors Concours as the first American to win two gold medals at the Salon in two consecutive years. Despite his stylistic entrapment, Louis Aston Knight received strong influence from Monet and the Impressionists with whom he was friendly. When painting outside of his traditional locales--he showed an impressionist spark that  collectors see as valuable. Our snowscape reveals just how good Aston Knight's impressionism truly is--with a brilliant sky and landscape contoured by winter. Knight put the snow into the sky, which is why you want this painting. Called "Un Effet de Neige," the work was likely done in the Pyrenees-Orientale, near to Ax Les Thermes, and close to Spain and Andorra where the grand hotel overlooks the mountains that are now ski slopes. His choice of "effet"--which connotes "indeed"--suggests that as a painter he sees nature creating a painting of its own--an absolute Impressionist tenet. We  think time will eventually decide in favor of these rare break through paintings. And indeed our snowscape from the Readers Digest Collection was first exhibited at Cornell Univ. in 1989.


Another Knight set in the Pyrenees-Orientale


The Artist ca. 1920

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