Early 20th-Century Louis Aston Knight Oil Painting
I purchased it at a consignment shop in the late 1980s. I liked the looks of it, and so that's why I bought it.
Can I ask how much you paid for it?
It was for sale for $300.
What do you know about the artist?
Not a lot. His last name is Knight. I did a little bit of reading about him, but that's about it.
Well, the artist is Louis Aston Knight. He's French. He was born in 1873, and his dad was Daniel Ridgway Knight, who was also an artist. And Louis Aston Knight studied a bit under his dad as well as some other French artists, including an artist named Robert-Fleury. Now, your painting is an oil on canvas, it's clearly signed, and it's located in Paris. The father, Daniel Ridgway Knight, painted figures, but similar French landscapes. A little bit less of a focus on gardens. His style was a little bit tighter than his son Louis's. Louis tended to do a little bit more of an impressionist style, and there's a little bit of an influence from some of the famous impressionist painters like Monet. Interestingly, father and son agreed that only Daniel would include figures in his paintings, and Louis would not include figures in his paintings, although you'd really not confuse them if you saw them side-by-side. And I would imagine this was done probably in the first quarter of the 20th century. This is a great example of what's called plein air painting. Plein air is a fancy French term which essentially means "painting in the outdoors." He had a real concern with painting great optical fidelity, and you see that here. In fact, although your painting is taken from a perspective where we have a pathway in the front, he was often known as an artist who actually went out wading in boots in streams to make sure he got everything just right. He had kind of an obsession with gardens. He not only had a garden that he was very proud of in Normandy in France, where he lived, he actually paid his neighbors an award of $1,000 for whoever had the best garden. The frame is not original. I think this frame complements the picture; I think it's very close to the sort of frame that Aston Knight would have used himself. It's a great example of his work, very traditional, very typical. If you were to insure this, which would be akin to going to a great gallery and having to buy this painting, I would insure it for $17,000.
It's a great painting. For auction, you'd be talking in the area of $7,000 to $10,000.
His paintings were a bit higher in the late 1990s into the mid-2000s, so they've come down a little bit, but very desirable, always popular at auction, and people love his work because it's just great to look at.
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