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Often confused with John Prescott Knight, the respected portrait painter, James Peter Knight was an artist and drawing master in Cheltenham and a friend of John Dillwyn Llewelyn. Llewelyn family tradition has it that Knight lived for some time in Glamorganshire, acting as a tutor to the Llewelyn children (Thereza Llewelyn, who became Thereza Story Maskelyne, recorded in her diary that “Mr. Knight” accompanied the boys on an 1856 trip to Switzerland). In the 1857 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London, James Knight entered View from the Windows of the Hotel Bellevue, at Thurn, Switzerland, almost certainly one and the same photographer as the J. Knight who had submitted a calotype view of Caswell Bay to the society’s 1854 exhibition. James Knight contributed two calotype views of Llewelyn’s home of Penllergare to the 1855 exhibition; the next year he showed nearly three dozen views, most in collodion but also two in calotype, with Penllergare and its vicinity again the subject, as well as Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot’s Welsh home of Margam Castle. Knight participated in the 1857 Manchester Art Treasures exhibition and the 1857 and 1859 Photographic Society exhibitions, by then working primarily in collodion or in Llewelyn’s oxymel process. Named headmaster of the Government School of Art in Cheltenham in 1858, he published seven years later The Practical Guide to Perspective, codifying the observations that clearly informed his own photographic work. Later in life Knight was again an artist and private teacher in Cheltenham.
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007)
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012.
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