Born in Philadelphia, Daniel Ridgway Knight began his artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts alongside Mary Cassatt and Thomas Eakins. After traveling to Paris, where he enrolled in the L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts and served an apprenticeship under Charles-Gabriel-Gleyere, the artist returned to his native state where he fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. During these difficult years Knight continued to work through his artistic practice by depicting the human emotion wrought by battle, as well as the daily realities of war itself.
Equally committed to working in a Realist and Impressionist manner, Knight was influenced by prominent members of the Impressionist milieu such as Renoir when he returned to France in the early 1870s. Embracing the potential of genre scenes as artistic subject matter, Two Women in a Landscape reflects a theme that Knight returned to repeatedly: young women, alone or in pairs, depicted in scenes of bucolic splendor. The painting touches on the significant influence of Jean-Francois Millet's peasant scenes, although in the present work, Knight has chosen to depict a moment of intimate conversation rather than focusing on the labor at hand. The serene landscape behind the two figures and the abundance of wild flowers around them heightens the scene's pastoral setting; the net cast near the figure on the left who is listening politely yet intently to her companion, lies apart from the fish that will presumably make the evening's meal. Indeed, the net, fish, and the display of flora interact to produce a wonderfully charming scene that simultaneously stands on its own while also working in harmony with its surroundings. Two Women in a Landscape is a wonderful demonstration of Knight's ability to render landscape and portraiture in an idealized manner.
We would like to thank Howard L. Rehs of Rehs Galleries, Inc. for kindly confirming the authenticity of this lot, which will be included in their forthcoming catalogue raisonné, www.ridgwayknight.com.