01 Work, The Art Of The Nude, with footnotes # 91

Charles Knight, (1901–1990)

Oil on canvas
50 cm by 60 cm; 20 in by 23 1/2 in
Private collection

Charles Knight, ROI VPRWS (1901–1990), a Sussex landscape painter, channelled the tradition of English watercolour painting in order to produce his own original contribution. As a result, he became a pillar of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours.

His father, employed by a firm of Brighton publishers, was a keen naturalist and artist, and took the young Charles on walking and sketching trips, so initiating a love of Sussex. His gift for drawing was further encouraged by trips to France with a childhood mentor, Canon Elliott. Studying first at Brighton School of Art (1919–23), in 1923 he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools and, though commuting from the South Coast, became exposed to many new influences. His discovery of the work of John Sell Cotman was particularly seminal, for it determined his concentration on watercolour, and directed his travels, as well as affecting his early style. .

From 1925, Knight taught at Brighton School of Art, first as a full-time lecturer, and later as a visitor. The forty drawings of the county which he produced for Recording Britain were dubbed the ‘star turn’ of the project by William Russell Flint. During the Second World War, he was reserved by the teaching profession, and returned to full-time teaching at the college, but also worked as a night telephone operator for the Civil Defence and a member of the Home Guard. In 1944, he was asked by the Queen Mother to give Princess Margaret lessons in watercolour painting; his appointment lasted for three years. He continued to teach at Brighton School of Art, and in 1959 became both Vice-Principal and Head of the Drawing and Painting Department. He died on 15 May 1990. More on Charles Knight

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