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Daniel Ridgway Knight's works represent so many aspects of Nineteenth Century painting, including history, genre, landscape, portrait, and floral themes. In order to faithfully record the scenery, Knight studied the different phases of the day and their effects on the environment. In 1872, once settled in France, Knight befriended Renoir, Sisley, and Wordsworth, all of whose influences can be seen in his work.
Knight's works during the 1870's and 1880's focused on the peasant at work in the field's or doing the day's chores - collecting water or washing clothes at the riverside. By the mid 1890's, Knight established a home in Rolleboise, some forty miles west of Paris. Knight received a third class medal at the Salon in 1888 for Hailing the Ferry and a Gold Medal at the Munich Exhibition that same year. A Pastoral Legacy: Paintings and Drawings by the American Artists Ridgway Knight and Aston Knight, Herbert F. Unless otherwise noted on the specific page, all information and images displayed on this web site are the property of Rehs Galleries, Inc.
Fresco of Approving of bylaw of Society of Jesus depicting Ignatius of Loyola receiving papal bull Regimini militantis Ecclesiae from Pope Paul 3. This group bound themselves by a vow of poverty and chastity, to "enter upon hospital and missionary work in Jerusalem, or to go without questioning wherever the pope might direct".

They called themselves the Company of Jesus, and also Amigos En El Senor or "Friends in the Lord," because they felt "they were placed together by Christ." The name had echoes of the military (as in an infantry "company"), as well as of discipleship (the "companions" of Jesus). Knight built a glass studio outside of his home,enabling him to paint outdoors, even in the dead of winter.
He studied and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, were he was a classmate of Mary Cassatt and Thomas Eakins. During the war, Knight practiced sketching facial expressions and capturing human emotion in his work. His painting Hailing the Ferry, painted in 1888 and currently in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, depicts two peasant girls calling for the ferryman on the other side of the river. Here he began to paint the scenes that were to make his work so sought after by contemporary collectors - views of his garden. In 1889 he was awarded a Silver Medal at the Paris Exposition and was knighted in the Legion of Honor, becoming an officer in 1914. Ignatius of Loyola, who after being wounded in a battle, experienced a religious conversion and composed the Spiritual Exercises to closely follow Christ. The fresco was created by Johann Christoph Handke in the Church of Our Lady Of the Snow in Olomouc after 1743. Whether he was concentrating on the evening with the glow of moonlight upon the Seine River, or on a young woman in a brightly colored flower garden at midday, each scene is depicted with great detail and with specific attention to a realistic portrayal of the landscape. In 1861, he went to Paris to study at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Cabanel, and to apprentice in the atelier of Charles-Gabriel-Gleyere. This work, considered one of the artist's masterpieces, captures all the elements of his pre-Rolleboise period - the subdued light and color, the finely detailed figures and the artist's acute attention to detail.

His home had a beautiful garden terrace that overlooked the Seine - a view he often used in his paintings. He founded the Philadelphia Sketch Club, where he showed works that dealt with the Civil War, mythology, and scenes from opera.
Collectors from across the globe vied for these works which featured pretty local girls in his garden. In 1871 Knight married Rebecca Morris Webster and after the wedding he began working as a portrait painter in order to make enough money to return to France. In 1874 while painting in Barbizon, Knight went to visit Millet and found his view of peasant life to be too fatalistic.
As opposed to Millet, Knight focused on depicting the rural classes during their happier moments. Speed Museum and The Letter in the Joslyn Art Museum - both of which feature pretty young women surrounded by lush flora. Other important influences were Bastien-Lepage, with whom he is most often compared and Jules Breton for his plein-air style.

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