Daniel Ridgway Knight was born in Philadelphia to Quaker parents in 1839. He began studying art at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and later in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. During his education, some of his fellow classmates were notable artists and influencers such as Mary Cassatt, Thomas Eakins, Everett Shinn, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.
Knight is best known for his extraordinary ability to paint the human figure, in particular his French peasant subjects. He was first persuaded to paint this subject while studying under the realist painter, Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier. While this subject had been painting before, Knight distinguished himself by putting his own fresh perspective on portraying this subject matter. Other artists chose to portray the peasants hard at labor, but Knight often painted them at leisure. Daniel Ridgway Knight once told a critic “These peasants are as happy and content as any similar class in the world. They all save money and are small capitalists and investors…. They work hard to be sure but plenty of people do that.”
He continued to be friends with Renoir, Sisley and other major influencers of the day. Influences of these people can be seen in his work. Knight’s paintings have a wonderful sense of reality by using intense colors in the foreground against a more subdued background. His painting Young Woman Picking Flowers, offered by Ackerman’s Fine Art, is an excellent example of that technique. He uses color vs. light and shadows to define the different compositional elements. Knight employs light to convey the mood of the scene to the viewer. Daniel Ridgway Knight artistic development and skills have earned him a solid place within an important part of art history.
When collecting his work, look for paintings with exceptional forms and color. His most sought after work usually includes a mastery of flowers, people and fabrics of the clothes. The best compositions portray an interesting and lively location. While backgrounds tend to be more subtle, look for strong foregrounds. Daniel Ridgway Knight’s paintings were highly sought after in his day and continue to be widely collected. For more information or advice, please feel free to contact the gallery. We are always happy to help.
Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.