Rehs Galleries Inc., the New York gallery specializing in 19th and 20th-century works of art, recently discovered ‘Coming Through the Rye’, a previously unknown painting by the American Ex-patriate artist Daniel Ridgway Knight (1839-1924).
Born in Chambersburg, PA, Ridgway Knight received his formal training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he was a classmate of Thomas Eakins and Mary Cassatt. In the early 1860s, he traveled to Paris and studied with Alexandre Cabanel and Charles Gabriel Gleyre. In 1863, he returned to the United States to serve in the Civil War; during this time, he met Rebecca Morris Webster. The two were 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 several artists including Renoir, Sisley, and Meissonier (the latter of which he developed a close relationship). Ridgway Knight’s 1875 Paris Salon painting ‘Les laveuses’ (Wash Day) received critical acclaim and was inspired by a Meissonier sketch.
‘Coming Through the Rye’ (circa 1899) is a unique image, capturing one of his favorite models, Madeleine, walking down a path in the town of Rolleboise (about 40 miles west of Paris). Little is known about its very early history, but it ended up in the collection of Patrick Cudahy (1849-1919). Cudahy was born in Ireland and emigrated to the US with his family when he was a baby. Later, he worked at the Plankinton and Armour meat packing plant and became the superintendent in 1874, taking over the company with his brother John in 1888 and changing its name to Cudahy Brothers.
In 2022, the current owners, descendants of Patrick Cudahy, decided to sell the painting, and their representative contacted Rehs Galleries (the gallery, along with Professor Janet Whitmore, are currently researching the life of Daniel Ridgway Knight for the forthcoming virtual catalogue raisonné). Howard Rehs, the gallery’s owner, stated, “When I received the initial images, I was amazed by the scene. Knight typically captured his models in one of the private gardens of Rolleboise; this one was different. The model (Madeleine) is carrying a pitchfork while walking down a path. In the distance, you can see the roofs of a few homes and a piece of the Seine River; in the upper right is Saint Michel. On top of all that, the painting appeared to be in original condition”.
The gallery arranged to have the painting shipped in for their inspection. Upon arrival, they confirmed its authenticity and that it was in outstanding condition. Sadly though, it no longer had its original frame; the work arrived in an insert behind a dirty piece of glass. Thankfully, the gallery had an original Ridgway Knight frame in its storage area, and the painting was a perfect fit.
‘Coming Through the Rye’ is currently available on the gallery’s website and will be featured in several upcoming fairs.
For more information, come into the beautiful world Rehs Gallery, or call Howard Rehs at (212) 355-5710.