Arthur Henry Knighton-Hammond was born in 1875 at Arnold, Nottingham, the youngest son of a modest shopkeeper and his wife. Leaving school at the age of 11, he was reluctantly apprenticed to a local watchmaker but never gave up his determination to study art and become a painter. For some years he was obliged to limit his passion to evening classes at the Nottingham School of Art and the occasional day snatched from work on the pretext of illness or convalescence. None the less, his natural ability shone through, and in 1900 he moved to London to make a living as an artist.
This was to be the start of a long and prolific career, which encompassed periods as a landscape painter, a society portraitist and an industrial artist. Knighton-Hammond’s subjects ranged from the serene beauty of the Derbyshire dales and the picturesque charm of the French Riviera, to the dynamic interiors of the Dow Chemical Plant in Midland, Michigan, and from the most celebrated figures of his generation to colourful local characters in Sussex. His work took him all over Europe and to the United States, although his first love remained the English countryside.
Admirers and collectors of his art included members of the Greek Royal family, American industrialists, English aristocrats and fellow artists. Augustus John, noted for his harsh criticisms of his brother artists, exclaimed upon seeing one of Knighton-Hammond’s numerous exhibitions in France, “That man is the greatest English painter in water-colour of our time”. It is, then, a curious anomaly that until now there has been no biography of this remarkable painter and that, since his death in 1970 at the age of 94, his works have received very little attention. At last this omission has been rectified with this, the first full biography of one of England’s great water-colourists. It includes a catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work together with a complete list of his exhibitions and of his paintings currently in public collections.