The Rome Scholarship offered promising artists the opportunity to practice and hone their craft. In doing so, the BSR was left with a collection of archival materials which are testimony to their work in Rome. These offer an insight into the development of their artists’ capabilities, and range from studies to fully fledged works. The BSR photographed these records for posterity, and the images themselves reveal as much about the process of archiving art as it does the artists themselves. Notice how this small set of photographs in black and white – unfortunately the BSR does not possess the original pencil drawings by Winifred Knights – is reflecting the technology of the time. The photographer also experimented with a number of different plates, which affected how the intensity of the lines and shading appear in these representations.
Winifred Knights (1899-1947) used her time at the BSR to practise her drawings of people. She showed an interest in depicting individuals sleeping. This photograph in the Winifred Knights collection (BSR Fine Arts Archive), entitled Pencil Study for decoration (c.1920-1921), shows a man lying asleep on the floor, resting on what might be some cloth, and perhaps against a wall. It shows her attempts at capturing the intricacies of his clothing, and the spatial positioning of the body.
These images, both untitled, depict a sleeping girl from two angles. They again reveal Knights’ interest in the details of clothing as they fall about the person laying down.
Knights also practised her landscape drawings. These two images show her depictions of a town and of some farmland. It reveals the intense rural setting that she was imbedded within, and was probably produced at her time in Anticoli Corrado.
These studies contributed to Knights’ understandings of the Italian landscape, and helped her develop the skills that are demonstrated in her more notable works. This photograph of an oil on canvas, named in the BSR’s collections as The Tiber, was finished in 1921. The painting itself was sold to the Tate in the year it was painted, where it bears the name Italian Landscape (Tate, 1921).
Other records show the development of The Marriage at Cana (Te Papa Rongarewa Museum of New Zealand, 1927), one of the more famous of Knights’ paintings from this period. This photograph depicts a sketch version of the work, which reveals the painting as it was at this particular stage in its development.
This image shows The Marriage at Cana in its installation.
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For a full bibliography and further reading, see here.