Dame Laura Knight is best known for her captivating studies and paintings of the world of London’s ballet, theatre and circus. She devotes an entire chapter in her autobiography Oil Paint and Grease Paint to her experience painting backstage at the Coliseum during Diaghilev’s season. She had returned from a trip to Cornwall in January in 1919 and whilst her husband, Harold, painted in their studio in Hampstead, she went to the ballet. No outsider but myself then haunted the stage. I was there for every show. I was impressed by the immense size of the back-stage immediately on passing through the folding doors; inside was spacious as a cathedral, as orderly, as quiet. Canvases jutting at all angles; some high, lost in the oblivion of the flies, where hangings met them… (1)Over the next year Knight assembled a considerable body of ballet paintings and studies, exploring both the splendour of costume and scenery on the stage and quiet moments back stage away from the public eye. She continued to work from her studies long after the ballet had left.(1) Laura Knight, Oil Paint and Grease Paint, An Autobiography. Ivor Nicholson and Watson, 1936, Page 224.
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