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Laura Knight: A Celebration at Penlee House Gallery & Museum

Laura Knight: A Celebration : 17 May – 15 September 2021

A major new exhibition at Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance will celebrate the career of one of Britain’s best-loved artists.

Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) was one of the twentieth century’s most prolific British artists. Her career spanned nearly eighty years and the extraordinary breadth of her talent encompassed a huge variety of subjects, techniques and styles. Her achievements included being the second ever female Royal Academician, a highly acclaimed War Artist and being made a Dame of the British Empire.

The exhibition is an overview of Knight’s entire career and focuses on several different genres; beginning with her early years, the flowering of her work in Cornwall before the First World War, through her portraiture and on to her later years painting the Gypsy dynasties in Malvern. Her 1930s designs for china and glass are included, as are her posters for London Transport and LNER. There are powerful paintings of women working during the Second World War, and her deeply affecting painting of the Dock at the Nuremburg War Trials. Her work on ballet, theatre and circus subjects stress her passion for back-stage life and her deep respect for performers. 

Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) Allez Oop! aka The Finishing Horse aka Bareback Riders, 1954 Oil on canvas Private Collection © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA 2021. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Images

The exhibition has been made possible with support from the Weston Loan Programme and the Friends of Penlee House Gallery & Museum. Created by the Garfield Weston Foundation and Art Fund, the Weston Loan Programme is the first ever UK-wide funding scheme to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections.


Bringing together over seventy works by the artist, the exhibition will include paintings from private collections not seen for many years, alongside some of Knight’s most famous paintings such as Ruby Loftus Screwing a Breech Ring from the Imperial War Museums, The Cornish Coast from National Museum Wales and portrait of classical pianist Ethel Bartlett from the Atkinson Art Gallery.

Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “The Weston Loan Programme exists to bring important loans to regional organisations, and we are so pleased to be able to support the display of these artworks in Cornwall, especially as this includes one of Knight’s most well-known pieces on loan from the Imperial War Museum’s collection.”

A lavishly illustrated book: Laura Knight, a Celebration, accompanies the exhibition, which includes essays by five of the leading experts on Knight. The exhibition will be displayed in all of the ground floor galleries, with a selection of Newlyn School paintings on display in Gallery 5.

Laura Knight (1877 – 1970) The Cornish Coast aka Two Girls and a Dog, 1917 Oil on canvas Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru (National Museum Wales) © Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA 2021. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Images

Laura Knight: A Celebration will be on display at Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Penzance 28 April – 15 September 2021.


Penlee House is owned and operated by Penzance Council.



Editor’s Notes:

Penlee House Gallery & Museum, Morrab Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4HE

Tel. 01736 363625



PLEASE NOTE: Pre-booking is essential.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm (last admission 4.30pm).

Admission price: £6

Local Residents’ Penzance Pass holders: FREE

Under 18s: FREE

18-26: 50% off full price admission


Free Saturday activities for families on Saturday afternoons 2.30pm – 3.30pm (restrictions permitting)


For further information and/or images, please contact Katie Herbert or call 01736 363625.



Laura Knight (1877 – 1970)

Sennen Cove, c.1917

Oil on canvas

Private Collection

© Reproduced with permission of The Estate of Dame Laura Knight DBE RA 2021. All Rights Reserved / Bridgeman Images