There are fashions in art, and carefully laid out histories that link artistic movements together. And then there are the other paintings. Pretty things, that people hang on wall and like to look at without thinking very much. Except perhaps to remember clear rivers touched by softly draping willow branches, on warm summer evenings. Or perhaps spring days scented with flowers, and magical evenings lit by golden sunsets.
If these, however secretly, are your preference and you also love Normandy, our picture post today is for you. Introducing Louis Aston Knight.
Louis Aston Knight saw a world just a little better than it actually is, and painted it well. He had an artistic heritage, which helped. He was born in Paris in 1873, the son of renowned American artist Daniel Ridgeway Knight. Surrounded by art and music, Louis’ early painterly education was from his father. He developed a not dissimilar style but preferred landscapes, while his father’s canvasses were filled with people of the countryside. Later, Louis studied formally with the great French Romantic painters, Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre.
Art alongside Art
Louis had inherited his father’s talent. So while Paul Gaugin was in Polynesia in 1894, creating striking hard edged paintings that would one day sit in the grandest art galleries in the world, Louis was exhibiting charming landscapes in the admiring Paris Salon. The Salon would continue to celebrate his work for the rest of Louis’ life.
Louis adored Normandy and the countryside around his home at Beaumont-le-Roger. Here he lived with his American wife Caroline, the daughter of a Senator, and their children Ridgeway, George and Diane.
An admirer of Claude Monet, Louis visited the great man at Giverny a few times and Monet’s garden inspired his own. At Beaumont-le-Roger he instigated a prize for the best village garden, which of course gave him a steady supply of delightful subjects for his paintings.
Louis was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 1927 for his contribution to art, and was popular in the United States. US artist, author and engineer Francis Hopkinson Smith (responsible for the Statue of Liberty’s foundations ) described Louis as ‘the painter in the high rubber boots’ as he was willing to set an easel up in the middle of a stream to capture the perfect view.
President Harding hung ‘The Afterglow’ in the White House and President Coolidge held a private exhibition of Louis works.
Now Louis Aston Knight is less fashionable, but this goes in the art buyer’s favour. A painting ‘In winter’ is currently for sale for £26,000. Te Fare (La Maison) by Paul Gaugin painted in 1892 on the artist’s first visit to the island of Tahiti, sold in 2017 for just over £20million… Is one really that much better than the other? That is very much up to you.