You’ll find April’s Object of the Month hanging pride of place above the piano in the Entrance Hall. It is First Night at the Stalls by Dame Laura Knight. and it’s one of our favourite pictures here at Shaw’s Corner. It’s one of the few images in the house that show us Shaw’s life in the theatre and his world beyond the retreat that was Shaw’s Corner. We like to think that this is from the first night of one of Shaw’s plays and that perhaps Shaw, and even Charlotte are in the stalls somewhere.
Laura Knight was a very talented English artists who became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy since it was founded in 1768. She was famous for her paintings of the ballet and theatrical world, but also painted marginalised groups like gypsies and circus workers. She was also the first woman to have a large retrospective at the Royal Academy and was the subject of a fantastic exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 2013.
Knight and Shaw became good friends, with Laura and her husband Harold being regular visitors to the Malvern festival in the 1930s – you’ll be able to see some of Shaw’s pictures of Knight in next week’s post. In 1942 Knight painted a rather dreamy portrait of Shaw against a background of the Malvern hills.