Conflict in Daniel Ridgway Knight´s Paintings

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Daniel Ridgway Knight was an odd American artist who loved to paint relaxed French peasants in luscious landscapes. Ironically, he lived during a stressful time when the Industrial Revolution displaced numerous farmers and polluted the environment. He seemed to ignore the harsh truth and shut himself in his imaginary serene world. For instance, In the Premier Chagrin, translated as The First Grief, Knight paints two healthy girls conversing on a stone wall in front of gorgeous fields. At first, it appears as merely a pretty painting that is nicely contrasted to show depth and realism. Yet, with a closer look, this contrast in the colors and lines of the landscape and the figures creates tension to suggest the painter’s conflict between longing for serene freedom and feeling trapped within the stiff society. Though the viewers focus first on the centered figures, it is easier to first analyze the surrounding settings to understand them. The stone wall foreground and the open fields of the background each embodies one of the girl’s thoughts. The back landscape is filled with warm, airy colors of blue and orange, as if it were under a bright sun. On the other hand, the foreground’s stone walls and concrete floor has dark, cold, shadowy, earthy colors that seem to appear as if under a stormy cloud. The sunny land suggests free, pure, spacious land previous to the industrialization. Yet, the darkened foreground due to the overcasting shadows resemble the currently dirty,

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