Born in Nottingham, the son of architect and sometime painter, William Knight, Harold won a travelling scholarship while at the Nottingham School of Art, allowing him to study at the Academie Julian under Laurens and Constant.  After marrying Laura JOHNSON, a fellow student at Nottingham in 1903, the couple lived mainly in Staithes, but also made several trips to Holland, where Harold became interested in the farming subjects and interiors of simple peasant living, handling these in the manner of the HAGUE SCHOOL of artists.

Harold and Laura KNIGHT moved to Lamorna, Cornwall and lived at Oakhill from 1907-18. There he continued to paint genre subjects, but with a lighter palette, and also painted a number of sitters in Cornwall, including Mornie KERR, Blote Munnings (Florence CARTER-WOOD), and Ella Louise NAPER, the latter for whom he cared deeply.

In 1910 he sold his first painting at NAG, Prayer, and in 1914 he exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon (Un bohemien).

World War I proved to be a divisive time for the Lamorna community. Harold was a conscientious objector and made his views clear. His health was not good and initially his age precluded him from active service. But in spring of 1918 the conscription age was lowered. When he was called up, he appeared before the West Penwith Tribunal and was exempted from duty on condition that he should carry out agricultural work, which he did, until he was released in the spring of 1919. The experience took his toll on his health and the couple decided that they could no longer endure the hostility from some of their friends and neighbours, and so moved to London to further their careers.

In the capital he continued as a portrait painter of the well-known figures in society and politics of the period, and in 1925 received a Silver Medal for his portrait of Ethel Bartlett at the Paris Salons. The couple were to become the first husband and wife members of the RA in the history of the Academy. Harold pre-deceased Laura by some nine years.


Portrait and figure painter

works and access

Works include: Portraits of Norman Garstin and Ethel Bartlett (1925); Fishing off the Cornish Coast; The CouncilSewing; The Cave (1909); Prayer (1910); Robert Hughes (?1916)

Access to work: Manchester Art Gallery; Royal Cornish Museum, Truro; Penlee House, Penzance (A View of Mousehole)


RA May 1920

NAG March 1909, September 1910 (first gallery sale), March 1914

RWE Artists from Cornwall Exh 1992 Bristol (selected)



ARA 1928

RA 1937

Senior RA 1950





Cornish Telegraph 25 Mar 1909

St Ives Times 27 Mar 1914, 14 May 1920 [from Western Morning News]

Branfield E and C Naper, Art and Life in Lamorna

Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall

Hoyle, H (March 2013 Women Artists in Cornwall www.cornishmuse.blogspot.com) 'Summer in February - Art in Lamorna 1910-1914'

NAG sales records (repr Hardie 2009)

Public Catalogue Foundation (PCF) Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership

RA Directory

RWE Artists from Cornwall Exh Cat (1992) Bristol

Stevens et al (1988) Edwardians & After RA Exh Cat (illus)

Tovey, David (2022) Lamorna - An Artistic, Social and Literary History - Volumes I & II, Wilson Books

Wallace (2002) Under the Open Sky

Wormleighton (1995) A Painter Laureate