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Winifred Knights (1899-1947):
Illustration to Algernon Blackwood's The Centaur, 1915
Framed (ref: 9319)
Pen and ink, watercolour
5 3/8 x 2 in. (13.7 x 5.1 cm)
Provenance: Private collection.
Literature: Sacha Llewellyn, Winifred Knights, Lund Humphries, 2016, page 20
At the start of her art training Knights considered a career as an illustrator. Presenting herself as the central protagonist, and selecting models from her inner circle, she was greatly drawn to themes showing female independence, strength and courage, such as Rossetti's Goblin Market. The conflict between female self-empowerment and subjugation was a recurrent theme, explored through women’s relationship to the natural world, to working communities, to marriage, motherhood and death.
In 1915, Winifred Knights produced an illustration to Algernon Blackwood’s visionary novel, The Centaur, published in 1911. ‘It is a very beautiful book’, she observed. ‘The author must be a disciple of Carpenter’s for he quotes him at the head of practically every chapter and the whole book is full of ideas like Carpenter’s’. Set in the Caucasus between the Black and Caspian Seas, The Centaur tells the story of a journalist of mystical temperament who rejects the pace of the modern world for a lifestyle that is closer to nature. Winifred’s illustrations, which were inspired by W. G. Robertson’s end paper design, depict the vision of ‘strange dreamy forms of almost impossible beauty…hair flying past them like a rain of summer flowers’. The compositions, in pen and ink and watercolour, are stylistically close to Edmund Dulac’s ‘Noctures’