Added Details: Selections from the Jane Joel Knox Collection

More about some of Knox’s favorites.

Mrs. Knox was kind enough to provide us with some extra details about some of her paintings and the artists who painted them, including a couple that didn’t come up in her article, “A Thrilling Obsession,” which ran in our June 2010 issue. We’re happy to be able to present this extra material here. To view each painting, just click on its title, then use your “back” button to continue reading.

Le Contrabandier Aragonais, 1882

Oil on panel 15 1/2” x 10”

William Turner Dannat (1853 – 1929), American

Acquired 1998

Adelson Gallery, New York

William Turner Dannat was born into a rich American family who moved to Europe when he was 12 years old. He left architecture school to study painting from a Hungarian named Mihaly Munkacsy. Dannat’s first entry into the prestigious Paris Salon won a medal. The next year, he won again for the Contrabandier Aragonais and following that for La Femme en Rouge. Tall, blonde and handsome, he was a hot property in Paris and the subject of magazine articles and gossip columns. He fenced, boxed, raced fast cars, and owned the first Daimler (predecessor of the Benz and later Mercedes Benz) in France.

I really fell for Dannat’s oil study of a very young man pouring wine down his throat from a flask, preparing for the risky crime he was about to commit. He’s quite dressed up for the heist, but then, he’s a contrabandier, not merely a thief. I was unable to discover anything about the last 12 years of Dannat’s life. His last address was Monaco. His obituary was scant.

Summer Twilight

Oil on Canvas 25 1/8 x 39 x 1/8”

William Morris Hunt (1824-1879), American

Acquired October 2001

Spanierman Gallery, New York

William Morris Hunt was influenced by the Barbizon School (circa 1830 to 1870), which was named after a French village and emphasized realism and naturalism in art. It arose after the more formal Romantic period. Hunt studied in France and brought the atmospheric style of the Barbizon School back to America. Upon returning to the Boston area, he had a specially built van in which he traveled and painted through New England.

Hunt lectured and fought for a more poetic approach to painting. When I learned that the Spanierman Gallery in New York would be displaying Summer Twilight, I rushed up there to see it—all the while hoping no one would beat me—and then buy it. For the four young figures in the painting, frolicking and soaking in the cool water must have been a delight, given that in 1877 their break likely followed a day of child labor. In the words of a fine American curator, Summer Twilight “takes you someplace.”

Through the Barn Door , West Burton, Sussex

Oil on Canvas 30” x 25”

Wilfrid de Glehn (1870-1951)/British

Acquired July 1997

Messums Gallery, London

British-born Wilfrid de Glehn, who was known as von Glehn, is one of my more contemporary artists—an Impressionist/Realist. He used broad brushstrokes and heavy impasto. His colors were fresh and intense. Landscapes, portraits, genre—he painted them all. He was very prolific.

Von Glehn and his wife, Jane, who was a niece of the novelist Henry James, were friends of John Singer Sargent. They traveled with Sargent and his entourage on painting trips all over Europe. At the outset of World War 1, according to a biography of the artist on the Messums website, the couple took on a variety of roles as part of the war effort. “Wilfred initially drilled with the Artist’s Rifles at Burlington House, and both of them worked at the Field Hospital at Arc-en-Barrois in the Haute Marne. Jane was a nurse and Wilfrid an operator of the newfangled X-ray machine.” In December 1916, von Glehn was commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery and, according to his biography, “revisted the Veneto under new, grotesque circumstances, finding himself caught up in the Allied retreat from Caporetto.” In a letter to Jane in November 1917, he wrote: “I spent one of these days—a glorious autumn day—on the top of San Michele with my Col. and the Lt. Col. doing sketches—panoramas of the battle ground, such fair and glorious views—such peace in line and colour and yet so full of sounds of shell and great clouds of bursts.”

At the close of the War, Wilfred change his name to “de Glehn.” He and Jane lived in a posh artist neighborhood in London. They are believed to be the subjects of a Sargent painting named The Sketchers that is owned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. No doubt it was painted on one of the “safaris” of the illustrious group.

The Polish Exile, 1890-91

Oil on Canvas 46 x 34”

William Satterwhite Noble (1825-1907)/ American

Acquired March 2001

Sotheby’s, New York

An officer in the Confederate Army, Noble mustered out of service consumed with a desire to paint images expressing ideas about social justice. In Munich, Noble encountered the subject of my painting, a man who had been exiled from Poland. His cap indicated that he was a scholar or Rabbi. He had a look of pure desperation, a man without a country. He was a heroic figure whom Noble was compelled to paint.

Noble also painted Margaret Garner—A Modern Medea, the free black woman who killed two of her children, whose father was their slave owner. She murdered them to prevent their future enslavement. This story is the basis of Toni Morrison’s best-selling book, Beloved. Noble’s work was very popular to look at but too politically charged to own.

The Polish Exile had a conservation issue—it needed work. If it hadn’t had that problem, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

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