Fresh research into Knights’s dramatic depiction of the biblical flood charts its relationship to religion, conflict, dance and gender, and suggests new art historical sources for the painting.
Winifred Knights painted The Deluge in 1920 as a competition entry for the prestigious Rome Prize for Decorative Painting offered to young students at the Slade School of Art, London. She was the first woman to win the prize for her classically influenced yet highly modern depiction of the biblical flood narrative.
This In Focus gives an account of the painting’s making and reception, examining it as a product of a collective post-First World War response to death and suffering. It discusses the depicted figures in light of Knights’s interest in modern dance and bodily movement, examines it as an example of the decorative style in painting that was favoured by Knights and her Slade circle, and ties its production and meanings closer to theological perspectives prevalent at the time.
Published in March 2017, the project is authored by Dr Ayla Lepine (University of Essex) and includes a contribution from the Rev Dr Maggi Dawn (Yale Divinity School).