Granny Smith by Dame Laura Knight

The highlight of the exhibition for me was the gypsy and circus portraits, where Knight captures this obscure corner of society in all its regal splendour. There’s a heavy dollop of romanticism in her portrait of Granny Smith (below), but I love the dusky colours and the parallels in pose and style with Knight’s portraits of society ladies.
(https://unpopularcultureblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/laura-knight-portraits-national-portrait-gallery/)


.. In the late 1930s, Knight made a remarkable series of paintings of English Gypsies, but very little is known about the individuals depicted. Given that they posed within living memory, I felt certain that the sitters would have descendents who might help us learn more about these portraits and their subjects.

...Knight gave these portraits vague titles including; ‘The Gypsy’ and ‘Old Gypsy Woman’, but her book describes the regular visits she made to the Gypsy settlement in Iver, Buckinghamshire, and her favourite sitter; the matriarchal Granny Smith.

...During my visit I heard about the Gypsy lifestyle in the 1930s, when painted wagons still prevailed, and also reminiscences of the Smith family: Lilo Smith, called ‘Granny’, Gilderoy, one of her nine sons, and the enigmatic Freedom, wife of Lilo’s son Harry, whom Knight chose to name ‘Beulah’....
(http://www.npg.org.uk/blog/searching-for-knights-gypsy-sitters)
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.