Louis Aston Knight
Aston Knight, the son of Daniel Ridgway Knight, was born in Paris in 1873. He was raised in Europe and received his early training with his father and later continued his studies with Tony Robert-Fleury and Jules Lefebvre.
Aston Knight exhibited his first work at the Paris Salon in 1894 and continued exhibiting there throughout his life while also gaining acclaim in America. (His painting ‘The Afterglow’ was purchased in 1922 by the USA President Warren Harding for the White House).
He married Caroline Ridgeway Brewster at the home of State Senator Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen, Snr. in Raritan, New Jersey in 1907. The artist was promoted to officer of the Légion d'Honneur, the highest decoration in France, in the mid-1920s’, eventually a commander in 1934.
Aston Knight quickly became well known in the New York art scene. Knoedler and Co. held an exhibition of his landscapes painted in the U.S.A. and France. His exhibition at the Levy Gallery in New York, in 1931 attracted much attention. “Art News” critiqued the show (the 26 December issue) and described his fame and plein-air approach:
“A group of new landscapes by Aston Knight, the popular painter of the Normandy Riverscape, is the Holiday attraction at the Levy Gallery. Mr. Knight sticks closely to his well-established formula, doubtless due to the tremendous acclaim acquired in his earlier years when Hopkinson Smith publicized him as the “painter in the high rubber boots”, for Mr. Knight was not content with studying the action of the Normandy streams from the comfortable banks… he used to don a pair of waist-high rubber boots and setting up his easel in mid-stream, paint the purling waters at first hand”.
Louis Aston Knight, although most famous for his French landscapes, received strong influence from Monet and the Impressionists with whom he was friendly. Monet lived nearby and Knight was particularly impressed with Monet's gardens, and strove to cultivate a garden as beautiful as the master's. He awarded prizes each year to the neighbouring peasants who kept the best gardens. This ensured him of good models for his cottage landscape paintings which were his favourite subject matter.