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    Sale 7594

    Victorian and Traditionalist Pictures

    5 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 30

    Dame Laura Knight, R.A. (1877-1970)

    Laugh, Clown, Laugh

    Price Realised  


    Dame Laura Knight, R.A. (1877-1970)
    Laugh, Clown, Laugh
    signed 'Laura Knight' (lower right) and further signed and incribed 'Laura Knight/9 Langford Place/St John's Wood/N.W/"Laugh, Clown, Laugh"/No. 5' (on a label on the frame)
    oil on canvas
    20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm.)

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    Laura Knight fell in love with the circus. This is probably Fred Carmo's, where the clowns Goliath (on the left) and the doleful Zolli (on the right) appeared. Goliath's task was to alter Zolli's melancholic expression - hence the painting's title. Even though he performed on the circus ring sidewalk while other acts were taking place, such was the strength of Goliath's personality that the audience - as in this instance - were fixated on him. Knight depicted him several times.

    It was a railway porter at Paddington station who first suggested to the artist that she would find a good subject at Fosset's Circus, at the Agricultural Hall, Islington. The following Christmas, her good friend Munnings introduced her to Captain Bertram Mills at Olympia. Mills allowed her to paint backstage, and in 1929, when he teamed up with the Great Carmo, she spent six months under canvas touring the south coast of England. For the next two seasons she spent many months of the year with the company.

    We are grateful to R. John Croft, FCA, the artist's great nephew, for his help in preparing this catalogue entry. The picture will be featured in his forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné of the artist's work.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    with Chiu, Halkin Arcade, London, by 1988, from whom purchased by the present vendor.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that Lot 30 should have the property title 'Property from the Estate of Robin Roberts'.


    The Studio, vol. 100, pp. 394-403.


    London, Royal Academy, 1929, no. 313.