Painting by Daniel Ridgway Knight surfaces after 118 years

Daniel Ridgway Knight

Daniel Ridgway Knight ‘On the Terrace, Rolleboise.’ Image courtesy Rehs Galleries Inc.

NEW YORK – Rehs Galleries Inc. the New York gallery specializing in 19th and 20th century works of art, recently discovered On The Terrace, Rolleboise, a previously unknown painting by the American ex-patriate artist Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924).

Ridgway Knight, born in Chambersburg, Pa., received his formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he was a classmate of Mary Cassatt and Thomas Eakins. In 1861, he traveled to Paris and entered the ateliers of Alexandre Cabanel and Charles Gabriel Gleyre. Knight returned to the United States in 1863 to serve in the Civil War and met Rebecca Morris Webster. The two married in 1871 and the following year the couple traveled back to France, where they would remain for the rest of their lives.

Once settled in France, they became friendly with Renoir, Sisley and Meissonier (the latter of which, Daniel developed a close relationship with). Ridgway Knight’s 1875 Paris Salon painting Les laveuses (Wash Day) received critical acclaim and was inspired by a Meissonier sketch.

 On the Terrace, Rolleboise (circa 1900) captures a peasant girl in a moment of reflection at the edge of a garden in Rolleboise, a town about 40 miles west of Paris. Shortly after it was painted, the work sold to Samuel and Julia Wellman of Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Wellman was a steel industry pioneer and inventor. In 1864 he built the first commercially successful open-hearth furnace. In 1919, upon Wellman’s death, the painting passed to his daughter Lena Wellman Comstock, who lived in California.

In 2018, the current owners, descendants of Comstock, decided to sell the painting. Their representative contacted Rehs Galleries, which is currently researching the life of Daniel Ridgway Knight for the forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

“When I received the initial images all I could say was ‘wow,’” said Howard Rehs, the gallery’s owner. “While Knight painted many views of young peasant girls in the gardens of Rolleboise, this one was a little different. The model, who appeared to be Madeleine, was captured in profile, standing at a rocky edge with a beautiful vista below – a rather unique image. In addition, the painting seemed to be in original condition.”

Rehs Galleries acquired the painting and sold it within days of it being placed on the market.

Rehs Galleries Inc. is considered one of the world’s leading dealers of 19th and early 20th-century European paintings and is currently involved in the catalogue raisonné research projects for Daniel Ridgway Knight, Julien Dupré, Emile Munier and Antoine Blanchard.

Owner Howard Rehs was a past president of the Fine Art Dealers Association, is currently on the Board of the Antiques Council, and has been a member of the Internal Revenue Service’s Art Advisory Panel since 2008.