Daniel Ridgway Knight: Celebration of the French Countryside

Katherine19th Century Art, 20th Century Art, American Paintings, Artist SpotlightLeave a Comment

Daniel Ridgway Knight

Daniel Ridgway Knight’s works are best characterized for their openness. Each scene features bright, open sky and a sense that the landscape does not end at the edge of the canvas. The pieces are vibrant and stunningly beautiful. It is a celebration of the outdoors and idealizes the lives of his favorite subject, French peasants.

French peasant women were among the hallmarks of Knight’s paintings. However, they were not used as a statement or for commentary. Instead of focusing on suffering and poverty, Knight depicted them at peace and enjoying their surroundings. These paintings are filled with warm color and the softness of natural light. The use of the country women helped give the landscapes a human touch. They add to the overall sweetness and tranquility of the scene.

While Daniel Ridgway Knight primarily worked in France, he is considered an American artist. He was born to a Quaker family in Philadelphia and studied painting at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While in school, a fellow classmate told tales of the romance of Paris. Knight was successfully seduced and traveled to Paris. As much as he loved Paris, he returned to fight in the Civil War. However, the dream of moving to France never left him. He worked as a portrait painter so that he and his wife could move to France. Once there, he befriended fellow artists such as Renoir.

daniel_ridgway_knight (1)Because of his love for the French countryside, it was only logical for Knight to paint outdoors, or plein air. However, weather and other environmental conditions do not always cooperate. To combat this, Daniel Ridgway Knight built himself a glass studio. Thanks to this, he was able to paint on rainy days or in the dead of winter. The glass studio was attached to his cottage in Poissy and rebuilt when he moved to be closer to the Seine. This way he could maintain closeness to nature.

Knight’s works are a celebration of the French countryside. They are both peaceful and striking paintings of the natural world.


Ackerman’s Fine Art specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy, sell or consign original paintings by Daniel Ridgway Knight, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.

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