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Born in Long Eaton in Derbyshire, the artist was encouraged to paint by her artistic mother and first went to study at Nottingham School of Art at the age of 13. It was here that she met her future husband Harold Knight, with whom she spent time in Staithes, Yorkshire and Holland. In 1907 the Knights moved to Newlyn in Cornwall, where they became central figures in the growing artists' colony. They continued to return there regularly after moving to London at the outbreak of the First World War. She was made a dame in 1929 for her services to art and in 1936 became the first woman to be elected to the Royal Academy. Whilst in Newlyn, Laura Knight painted the life of the fisher folk and tin miners. This scene focuses on the damage the sea can do to human life, rather than bounty that can be reaped from its depths.

Bolton Museum and Art Gallery



The Cruel Sea




oil on canvas


H 76 x W 64 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased from Abbott and Holder, 1971

Work type



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Bolton Museum and Art Gallery

Le Mans Crescent, Bolton, Greater Manchester BL1 1SE England

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