In the Ring, painted by Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) is expected to bring more than $135,000 at the upcoming sale at Christie’s in London on January 26th, one of 250 lots from a home in Switzerland designed by François-Joseph Graf. It has a pre-auction estimate of between £70,000 and £100,000.
Dame Knight was among the most successful and popular painters in Britain and was known for her depicting the world of theater and ballet, as well as being inspired by the Romani people and circus performers. She was the first woman to be elected at the Royal Academy in 1927 and also the president of the Society of Women Artists in 1932. Her success in the male-dominated artistic community paved the way for future generations of artists in the U.K.
Laura –née Johnson — showed great artistic promise as a young girl. However, her career was almost cut short when she was abandoned by her father and lost her mother to cancer when she was a teenager. She got a scholarship from a museum to continue studying art and it was there that she met her future husband, Harold Knight.
In the Ring features the Hungarian trainer Captain Emmerich Anker at Carmo’s Circus with his Hungarian bred horses Pinto and Apollo. Apollo, who is rearing in the painting, was originally purchased by the circus to feed the lions, but Captain Anker realized his potential as a performing horse and saved him. In the Ring was painted from a study for a similar larger painting, Under the Big Top, that portrays the clowns Joe Craston and Marba standing by the Ring entrance watching the show.
Dame Knight was touring with the circus in 1930, when a huge fire at Carmo’s Circus which destroyed the great tent. Knight recalls the fire and how Mrs Anker valiantly saved their wagon, of which they were so proud, by swabbing out pieces of lighted canvas that kept falling.
In addition to painting the backstage elements of the circus, Knight also painted the circus in action, capturing the energy and excitement of the performance. Knight has was fascinated by the color and spectacle of the circus and her enjoyment comes through clearly.
I particularly love the Appaloosa. Sign me up to ride him any time!
Bidding starts on In the Ring in just five days. If you have deep pockets, register now!