While Knight’s portrait paintings are familiar and well documented, the extent of his photographic endeavors is not as clear, and he is often confused with James Peter Knight. J. P. Knight, R.A., was a member of the loosely knit Calotype Club started in London by Peter Wickens Fry in 1847. In the 1854 exhibition of the Photographic Society in London the calotypists J. Knight, Esq., and John Knight were carefully distinguished. The former entered a view of Caswell Bay, near John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s home of Penllergare (so this was surely James Peter Knight), and the latter submitted a calotype of Blenheim Palace. Nearly four out of five of John Prescott Knight’s paintings are portraits, but early in his career he was less specialized. The son of a popular comedian, Knight occasionally mounted the London stage himself. From 1839 he taught at the Royal Academy and was later professor of perspective, a post he maintained until 1860. Knight may have given up photography once his reputation as a portrait painter began to flourish; in any case his calotype of Blenheim Palace remains to date his only documented photograph.
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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