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    Daniel Ridgway Knight (American, 1839-1924)
    Normandy girl sitting in a garden
    Oil on canvas
    32 x 26 inches (81.3 x 66.0 cm)
    Signed and inscribed lower left: Ridgway Knight Paris

    Private collection, New York;
    By descent to the present owner.

    Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey; Terra Museum of American Art, Evanston, Illinois; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, Washington, Down Garden Paths: The Floral Environment in American Art, October 1, 1983-June 24, 1984.

    W. Gerdts, Down Garden Paths: The Floral Environment in American Art, Montclair, 1983, exh. cat., p. 136, p. 64, illustrated;
    "Down Garden Paths," American Artist, vol. 47, 1983, p. 100.

    Best known for his idyllic and picturesque scenes of rural peasant life, Daniel Ridgway Knight received critical acclaim, fame and success during his lifetime, and today his works are some of the most recognizable and beloved images in nineteenth century art. Often depicting young peasant women in pleasing landscapes much like the present work, Knight's works reflect the artist's optimism and admiration for the lives and work of the peasant class, as well as his eye for capturing the beauty of his natural surroundings.

    Daniel Ridgway Knight was born in Philadelphia in 1839, and studied and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1858 to 1861, sharing classes with Thomas Eakins and Mary Cassatt. In 1861 the young artist sailed for France to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he apprenticed with academic painters Charles Gleyre and Alexander Cabanel. Knight returned to Philadelphia in 1863 to enlist in the army during the Civil War, only to return to France in 1871 where he would reside for the remainder of his life.

    Upon his return to France, Knight formed friendships with Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Alfred Wordsworth, and his work began to reflect the influence of the three great French Impressionists, with a keen attention to the effects of light during different times of day and a focus on everyday subjects. After meeting the artist Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier, he took residence in Poissy to be closer the renowned academic painter, who would have a tremendous influence on his work. Meissonier influenced Knight to incorporate a detailed style of realism in his compositions, and encouraged his artistic focus toward scenes of peasant life, which would become Knight's primary subject matter.

    Often compared to his contemporary Jean-Francois Millet, Knight was strongly impressed by the artist's work, but in contrast with Millet and other painters among the emerging Realist movement in France, he set his focus on uplifting rather than fatalistic depictions of the rural class. Moving his attention away from the hardships of labor, Knight instead idealized his figures, rendering them in moments of contemplative rest or idle activity, or contently absorbed in performing the day's chores and set in colorful gardens or scenic riverside settings. These pleasing scenes of rural life proved highly popular among nineteenth century collectors both in France and abroad, and began to bring him the fortune and renown he would continue to enjoy.

    Normandy Girl sitting in a Garden is an iconic example of the artist's work on a grand scale, painted with a masterful sense of composition and Impressionist technique. This work features the popular artist's most beloved subject matter, the young peasant woman idly absorbed in the French countryside, a subject proven to stand the test of time in its resonance with audiences from the Victorian era through the present.

    We are grateful to Howard L. Rehs for confirming the authenticity of this work, which will be included in his forthcoming Daniel Ridgway Knight catalogue raisonné.

    Condition Report*: Original canvas. Under UV light there is inpaint to a horizontal pressure mark measuring 4 inches across the figure's hips. There is a second horizontal pressure mark measuring 3 1/4inches where there was a break in the paint film (which was subsequently inpainted) just below the figure's right knee in striped skirt. Framed Dimensions 40 X 33.5 X 2.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    24th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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