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The present painting of a young woman perched on the edge of a hospital bed is a particularly sensual example of the work from this period. The theme of the semi-clad nude is recurrent in Knight’s work; many of the paintings surrounding the theme of the ballet and theatre show actors and dancers backstage in the process of dressing or undressing – the tension between being clothed and unclothed is captured by Knight as a moment that is both exciting and natural. 
Here, the model, possibly a pregnant patient at the hospital, is shown with one shoe half on, the other under the bed. Her undergarments ride up around her waist and her blue dress rests on the bed. She appears distracted, as though she is glancing at her reflection in an unseen mirror. Lit by artificial light, the colours are cool and the atmosphere is one of introspection.

The light on the skin of the sitter emphasises her firm smooth flesh and the volume of her body. Knight’s portrait and figurative painting from the mid 1920s show a movement towards sculptural form and solid permanence, she later wrote ‘I was determined to get the last fraction of richness in the modelling, and a third-dimensional quality, such as I had not previously accomplished.’ The subject of this painting and the sculptural effects are a conscious nod to Knight’s friend Dod Procter whose painting of a sleeping woman ‘Morning’ (Tate Gallery) won Picture of the Year at the RA summer exhibition in 1927.
To celebrate her election to the Royal Academy in 1927, British Pathé made a short film of Laura Knight painting in her studio, surrounded by nudes and portrait studies from John Hopkins hospital. The film shows Knight at the peak of her success, an Academician (before her husband), producing paintings with impact and subtlety. Dressing is a compelling and finely painted example from this period of highly ambitious work.

Additional Information

Dimensions 18 x 20 in

Oil On Canvas

Subject Matter