Daniel Ridgway Knight was an American artist born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Knight was a pupil at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under Gleyre, and later worked in the private studio of Meissonier. After 1872 he lived in France, having a house and studio at Poissy on the Seine. (15 March 1839 – 9 March 1924)
He painted peasant women out of doors with great popular success. He earned his first major distinction in France at the Paris Salon in 1882 with his large oil on canvas Un Deuil. He would go on to be awarded the silver medal and Cross of the Legion of Honor, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1889, and was made a Knight of the Royal Order of St. Michael of Bavaria, Munich, 1893, and receiving the gold medal of honor from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1893.
He died in Paris. His son, Louis Aston Knight (1873–1948), was also known as a landscape painter. The catalogue raisonné research on Daniel Ridgway Knight’s life and work is being conducted by Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City.
Life is Sweet represents Knight at his best and most typical within his production of smaller scale oil paintings for his usual clientele. Daniel Ridgway Knight also painted several large paintings for major exhibitions, the best known of which is Hailing the Ferry (1888, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts), which won the third gold medal at the Paris Salon of 1888.
This painting is a highlight of early Daniel Ridgway Knight paintings that shows social and stylistic affinities to Jules Bastien-Lepage, to Jules Breton, the artist he is most frequently compared to, and even, in overall “finish,” to J.-L. Ernest Meissonier, the godfather to Knight’s daughter. Life is Sweet, on the other hand, is a later version of Knight’s academic Impressionism, looser, more varied in color, and more unified in effect. (From World Classic Gallery).