Figure Drawings

A discussion on figure drawing beginning with Leonard’s Vitruvian man, showing the proportions of the human body


Leonardo da Vinci, L’Uomo Vitruviano, c1490, pen and ink with wash over metal point on paper, 35 × 26 cm, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

and one of his studies of a hand


Leonardo da Vinci, Study of a Hand

Seven examples of the depiction of the human figure

The work of Egon Schiele may serve as a basis for the representation of the use of the figure in art. His style is only one of countless others


Egon Schiele, Girl with Black Hair, 1911, watercolour & graphite pencil on paper, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, USA


Egon Schiele, Girl with Black Hair, 1911, watercolour & graphite pencil on paper, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio, USA


Egon Schiele, Crouching Nude


Egon Schiele, Standing Male Nude with Red Loincloth, 1914, Albertina, Vienna


Egon Schiele, Girl in a Yellow Jacket

A cave painting, to show that mankind has always needed to draw


Big Horn Rhino cave painting, c30,000 BC, Chauvet, Ardèche, France

and a drawing, indicating simplicity and flowing movement


Pablo Picasso, Drawing of a head

MC, Meeting No23, 21 August 2018

Laura Knight, WW1 1914-18


Laura Knight, Spring, 1916-1920, oil on canvas, 182 x 153, Tate Gallery, London, UK

Laura needed to paint a picture which symbolised hope at a time when there seemed little prospect of better times: hence the rainbow. She reworked it over several years.

The models are Charles Naper, and his wife Ella, whom we last saw without her clothes.


Laura Knight, Self Portrait with Model, 1913, oil on canvas, 152 x 128 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

As far as I know, there are no paintings of Charles without his clothes, but he also painted his wife, as well as specialising in Cornish Landscapes


Charles Naper, Portrait of the Artist’s Wife, pencil


Photograph of Charles Naper, Laura Knight, Cecily & Alfred Sidgwick, and Harold Knight in August 1914

The photograph was taken at the time of the outbreak of the war. Laura rarely looks at the camera. I have the feeling that it was not intentional, but that she always seemed to find something else to do at the time.

The detail from Spring shows a single magpie. Laura’s friend Gertrude Harvey was Cornish, and superstitious. She tried to get Laura to paint out the unlucky magpie, without success.

Gertrude Harvey was the wife of Harold Harvey, who painted the portrait of Dorothea Sharp, the subject of an earlier presentation


Harold Harvey, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp

He also painted his superstitious wife, who evidently had no objection to a single parrot.


Harold Harvey, Gertrude Harvey with a Parrot in the Artist’s House, oil on canvas, 46 x 48 cm, Private Collection

During the war Harold Knight’s 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 required to work as a farm labourer. He was 40 at the outbreak of war. He produced a number of sensitive scenes of women in interiors during this period, in part because artists were forbidden to produce views of the Cornish coastline for security reasons during the First World War, but perhaps also to reduce the stress of his life at the time.

Left, Harold Knight, Knitting, 1915, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm, Private Collection, and right, Harold Knight, The Green Book, c.1915, oil on canvas, 51 x 46 cm, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, UK

Laura, on the other hand, was as busy and adventurous as ever


Laura Knight, At the Edge of the Cliff, 1916, oil on canvas, 58 x 71 cm, Private Collection

She cared little for the restrictions, and continued to paint coastal scenes. Eventually she had to stop, and afterwards always painted from a high viewpoint and with no horizon, so that she could not be accused of being a spy.
The model is Marjorie Taylor, the sixteen year old daughter of a local coal merchant.

In November 1916, the wealthy Canadian newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook founded the Canadian War Memorials Fund. The Fund hired more than 116 artists in Canada and Great Britain to paint over 900 scenes of Canada at war. Some artists were sent to the front lines in France and Belgium to sketch Canadians in battle. Back in their studios in London, England, they completed larger paintings in oils. Other artists painted scenes of the home front in Canada

Future members of Canada’s celebrated Group of Seven also found new inspiration as war artists, painting the landscape of the western front. After the war, they depicted Canadian wilderness scenes in which damage caused by forest fires and the harsh climate was a prominent feature. The image of the destroyed, but still upright, tree appears in many of their compositions.

Here is one example:


Frederick Varley, German Prisoners, c1918, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowa, Canada

Anna Airy, 1882-1964, was one of the first women officially commissioned as a war artist and was recognised as one of the leading women artists of her generation.


Anna Airy, Cookhouse, Witley Camp, 1918, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowa, Canada

Laura also received a commission to paint at Witley Camp, near Aldershot. Her brief, strange though it may seem, was to paint Canadian soldiers bathing in the river. She couldn’t find any, but met Joe Shears, the Imperial Forces bantam weight champion. He was kind, cheerful and popular with everyone. She decided to paint a picture of a boxing match instead.


Laura Knight, Boxing Match, 1916, oil on canvas, Canadian War Museum, Ottowan Canada

The painting is more than three metres wide, and features Joe on the left in his black shorts and red sash.

These two sketches were probably drawn at Witley


…as were these black and which illustrations, taken from her first autobiography, “Oil Paint & Grease Paint”, published in 1936.

Laura was a woman, commissioned to paint a subject unfamiliar to her. Some years earlier, George Bellows, one of the Ash Can School of artists in New York, had painted a more brutal depiction of a boxing match…


George Bellows, Stag at Sharkey’s, 1909, oil on canvas, 92 x 123 cm, Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, USA

Two boxers fighting in the private athletic club situated across from his studio. Bellows used quick strokes to create a blurred image, simulating the two fighters in motion. He also chose a low point of view to put the viewer among the crowd watching the fight. Participants in the boxing ring were usually members of the club, but occasionally outsiders would fight with temporary memberships. These fighters were known as “stags”.

BT, Meeting No 23, 21 August 2018

Pissarro or not Pissarro?


Last time we saw this unidentified work by Dorothea Sharp, and later agreed that it could have been painted during her early training in France.

There was a comment… “it could be Pissarro!”, followed by another… “nothing like Pissarro!”

Here are four paintings by Camille Pissarro:


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, 1872, oil on canvas, 60 x 74 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, 1870, oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, USA


Camille Pissarro, Route de Versailles à Louveciennes, effet de neige, 1869, oil on canvas, 38 x 46 cm, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD, USA


Camille Pissarro, Entrée du village de Voisins, 1870, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Put them all together… ???

BT, Meeting No23, 21 August, 2018

Dorothea Sharp, ROI, RBA


A photograph of Dorothea Sharp, taken in about 1940.

Dorothea Sharp was born in Dartford, UK, in 1874 to middle class parents, and died in London in 1955 at the age of 81.

She showed no particular aptitude for art as a young girl, but at the age of twenty one she enrolled at Richmond Art School, having inherited £100 from an uncle. From there she moved to the Regent Street Polytechnic where her work was admired by George Clausen and David Murray, both of whom were visiting critics of the Polytechnic Sketch Club.

David Murray was the son of a boot maker and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. George Clausen was the son of a decorative painter of Danish descent, who studied at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Dorthea went on to Paris, where she encountered the work of the impressionists, and partlcularly that of Claude Monet. This had a great influence on her, and resulted in her highly impressionist style and spontaneity which she adopted for the rest of her life.

She exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1901 to 1948.

In the the 1920s and 1930s she travelled in Europe and to St ives, Cornwall, where she met fellow artist Marcella Smith, who became a lifelong friend.

Left Roger Fry, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp, and right Harold Harvey, Portrait of Dorothea Sharp

Four flower paintings

Roses, with detail

The following work was presented as by Dorothea Sharp, but unidentified



MH, Meeting No22, 7 August 2018



Two things you didn’t know about Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Macintosh, 1868-1928

An architect, designer, painter, and graphic artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868. He was one of the leading lights of the late 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement, and served an apprenticeship to the architect John Hutchinson in Glasgow while also enrolled in evening courses in drawing and painting at the Glasgow School of Art. From 1899 until 1913, he worked in the architectural practice of Honeyman & Keppie. In 1894 Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, whom he later married, founded the “Glasgow Four” with Margaret’s sister Frances, and Herbert MacNair, a group that was later dubbed the “Spook School”.

In 1896 the Glasgow Four showed their crafts objects and furniture at the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society in London. Mackintosh built several public buildings and private houses in Glasgow and environs. In 1897 he began to work on the new building for the Glasgow School of Art (finished in 1909). Some of his projects were conceived and realised as total works of art, with the architect equally concerned with designing the entire interior, including textiles and furnishings.

In 1900 Mackintosh and his group were invited to show their work at the VIIIth exhibition of the Viennese Secession. His designs exerted a profound influence on German and Austrian exponents of Jugendstil.

He was awarded a special prize at the 1901 competition “Haus eines Kunstfreundes” (“House for an Art Lover”) mounted by Alexander Koch. In 1902 Mackintosh was commissioned by Fritz Wärndorfer, who became the paramount backer of the Wiener Werkstätte the following year, to design a music room. In 1914 Mackintosh went to London to design textiles for Foxton’s and Sefton’s.

Mackintosh’s later works are, unlike his earlier designs, which were organic in conception, distinguished by a stringently geometric style, which often unites the opposites light and dark, black and white, masculine and feminine, modern and traditional. In 1923 Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret moved to Port Vendres in Brittany, where he devoted himself to painting in watercolour.


Charles Rennie Macintosh, House for an Art Lover

The House for an Art Lover is a building constructed between 1989 and 1996 and based on a 1901 design by Charles Rennie Mackintosh with his wife, Margaret MacDonald. The building is situated in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, Scotland. The idea to actually construct the house from the Mackintoshs’ designs came from Graham Roxburgh, a civil engineer in Glasgow who had done refurbishment work on the Mackintosh interiors in Craigie Hall. The house is a venue for art exhibitions and other events, as well as being itself a visitor attraction.

Macintosh is less well known for his exquisite flower paintings and his landscapes, painted in the south of France.

Flower paintings


Grey Iris


Winter Rose




Butterfly Flower


White Tulips


Yellow Tulips




Wild Pansies




Pink Tobacco plant, textile design





Slate Roofs, Fetges




La Lagonne


The Fort


Héré de Mallet

EH, Meeting No22, 7 August 2018

Laura Knight, Newlyn

As we saw last time, in spite of the poverty, deprivation, terrible living conditions and the experience of pain and grief which so distressed Harold, Laura acknowledged that their life in Staithes was the time when she discovered herself as an artist

Remember that this all happened at the end of the Belle Epoque in society and the arts. Staithes was a long way from all this. They were now married and settled in their life together.

When they arrived in Newlyn in 1907, there was already an established colony of artists working there, among whom were Stanhope Forbes, Frank Bramley and Henry Scott Tuke. They were made welcome by Forbes, the acknowledged leader of the group.


Stanhope Forbes, A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach, 1885, oil on canvas, City Museum & Art Gallery, Plymouth, UK

Writing to his mother in 1894, the painter Stanhope Forbes described Newlyn as ‘a sort of English Concarneau, and is the haunt of many artists’. Aware of the work of Bastien-Lepage and keen to explore plein air painting and rustic naturalism, Forbes had travelled to Brittany in 1891–2 in the company of his friend Henry La Tangue. They visited the artists’ colonies of Quimperlé and Concarneau where Jules Bastien-Lepage had settled in 1883. On his return to Britain, Forbes made his way to Newlyn and found there another colony dedicated to plein air realism. He decided to stay.


Frank Bramley, A Hopeless Dawn, 1888, oil on canvas, 123 168 cm, Tate Gallery, London, UK

The painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy,  with the following quotation from Ruskin:
‘Human effort and sorrow going on perpetually from age to age; waves rolling for ever and winds moaning, and faithful hearts wasting and sickening for ever, and brave lives dashed away about the rattling beach like weeds for ever; and still, at the helm of every lonely boat, through starless night and hopeless dawn, His hand, who spreads the fisher’s net over the dust of the Sidonian palaces, and gave unto the fisher’s hand the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’
The print after Raphael’s cartoon of ‘Christ giving the Keys to St Peter’ represented on the wall on the right has evidently been placed there deliberately to bear out the text. An open Bible lies in front of the missing fisherman’s mother who is comforting the young wife. A candle placed on the window-sill as a beacon has flickered out.
The Naturalist style was viciously criticised by Sickert, as a result of which all the Newlyn members left the New English Art Club


Henry Scott Tuke, Our Jack, portrait of Jack Rolling, c1886, oil on canvas, 51 x 32 cm, The Tuke Collection, Winchester, UK


Laura Knight, The Beach, 1909, oil on canvas, 127 x 152 cm, Tyne & Wear Museum, Newcastle, UK

The Beach brings together studies made at Staithes and at Newlyn. The children have, as Elizabeth Knowles comments in “Laura Knight in the Open Air”, been taken ‘out from a dim cottage interior into the brilliant light’ and the North Yorkshire coast re-located, like Laura, to southern climes. Laura said herself “in it I painted Staithes rather than Newlyn”


Harold Knight, In the Spring, 1908, oil on canvas, 132 x 158 cm, Tyne & Wear Museum, Newcastle, UK

Harold’s artistic achievements have never been fully explored or evaluated in depth, despite his being a highly accomplished painter, and a great portrait artist. Nor has Harold Knight been treated fairly in his own right, too often being represented as withdrawn and repressed, existing in the shadow of his flamboyant wife, a muted background against which Laura performed her vibrant excesses. Yet those who met and knew Harold considered him to be a quiet, sober, mild-mannered man. He was a good conversationalist, well informed, not just about art but about national and international affairs, displaying a lot of common sense, pragmatic and highly respected both as a man and as a painter. Laura herself was to say in later life that Harold gave her the stability and discipline she needed.


Laura Knight, Cheyne Walk, 1908, oil on canvas, 48 x 58 cm, Art Gallery, Leeds, UK

At the end of 1908 Laura was elected Associate of the Old Watercolour Society and in the new year travelled to London to receive her diploma, staying overnight with old Nottingham friends, Ernest Gillick, who had been a fellow student at the Art School, and his wife. Dedicated to the plein air philosophy, she could not resist prolonging her visit so that she might paint the recent snowfall in the street outside their house in Cheyne Walk. At once she went out to buy canvas, brushes, paints and galoshes and set up an easel on the pavement.She worked all that day and the next, numbed by the cold. The resulting picture was exhibited at the Academy in the summer of 1909.

Between 1909 and 1910, Laura worked on two large canvases

Laura Knight, Flying a Kite, 1910, oil on canvas, 150 x 180 cm, Iziko Museums, Cape Town, South Africa

Laura Knight, The Boys, 1910, oil on canvas, 152 x 183 cm, Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Alfred Munnings arrived in Newlyn in 1909, and soon caused all sorts of trouble.

Harold Knight, Alfred Munnings Reading, c1911, oil on canvas, Private Collection

This painting was found in 2009, hidden on the back of Laura Knight’s Carnaval, 1915.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to why she should have hidden it. She liked Munnings for his extrovert behaviour, so much like her own. It is possible that she wanted to remove the canvas from Harold’s studio, since he had become irritated by the newcomer.

Shortly after Munnings had established himself in Newlyn, Florence Carter-Wood arrived. She was the sister of Joey, who lived there, although he was not an artist. Florence was beautiful and immediately sought after as a model.

Left, Harold Knight, Florence Carter-Wood, 1910, oil on canvas, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, A Girl Reading, probably Florence Carter-Wood, 1910, watercolour, 61 x 51 cm, Private Collection

Harold Knight, Afternoon Tea, c1910, oil on canvas, 193 x 152 cm, Private Collection

The scene is the sitting room in Sandy Cove, the house owned by another artist, Garnett Wolsey, who is present as the butler. Florence is on the left and Laura, dressed in blue, is in the centre.


Alfred Munnings, Morning Ride, oil on canvas, 51 x 62 cm, Private Collection

Munnings became infatuated with her, although they could not have been more different. He was the son of a Suffolk miller, she was from a wealthy brewing family. He behaved outrageously, she was naïve, conventional and innocent. They were married in 1912, and Florence attempted suicide on her wedding night, by taking poison. She was successful in her second attempt two years later.

In her autobiography, Laura simply states that “a much loved member of our community has been taken from us”, but Munnings does not refer to his first wife at any point in his own autobiography.

Briefly, back to Laura:

Laura Knight, Self Portrait, with model, 1913, oil on canvas, 152 x 128 cm, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK

The model is Ella Naper, an artist friend of Laura., and the painting is a bold statement about the ability of women to paint hitherto taboo subjects.

Two portraits of Dolly Henry, a model from London, whom Laura admired for her vitality, shrewdness, and a hint of violent temper. She was the girl friend of John Currie, a painter.

Left, Laura Knight, Rose and Gold, 1914, oil on canvas, 61 x51 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, Marshmallows, 1914, oil on canvas, Private Collection

John Currie, Self Portrait, 1905, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

Currie was a member of the Slade Art Group, and his friends included Mark Gertler and C R W Nevinson. He met Dolly when she was seventeen, fell in love and left his wife in 1911.

John Currie, The Supper, 1912-1914, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

The detail shows John & Dolly kissing.

Left, John Currie, Head of a Girl, 1913, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK, and right, John Currie, The Witch, 1913, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent, UK

On 8 October, 1914, Currie shot Dolly, and then killed himself.

Not everyone in Newlyn was surprised. Augustus John said “We all got sick of her. She was an attractive girl, or used to be when I new her first, but she seems to habve deteriorated into a deceitful little bitch”.

The Knights blamed themselves, since Harold, misjudging Dolly’s claims that Currie would harm her, had given him her address in London.

Calm returned.

Left, Laura Knight, Bathing, c1912, oil on canvas, 61 x 61 cm, Private Collection, and right, Laura Knight, The Cornish Coast,1917, oil on canvas, 65 x 76 cm, National Gallery of Wales, Cardiff, UK

Left,Laura Knight, The Green Sea, Lamorna, oil on canvas, 61 x 76 cm, Private Collection, and right Laura Knight, A Dark Pool, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Laura Knight, Logan’s Rock, c1916, oil on canvas, 67 x 70 cm, Private Collection

The Knights moved to London in 1918, but often returned to Newlyn. Harold died there in 1961,

BT, Meeting No22, 7 August, 2018