Laura Knight. Painting Nuremberg Trials, 1946

Painting The Nuremberg Trials by Laura Knight

Laura Knight. Painting Nuremberg Trials, 1946
Laura Knight. Painting Nuremberg Trials, 1946

The Nuremberg Trials is a painting by the brilliant British artist Dame Laura Knight, which realistically shows the leaders of Nazi Germany in the dock. In the center of the work are placed twenty high-ranking adherents of German National Socialism, ranked in descending order of their importance. The figures are easily recognizable by the audience.

In the first row – Hermann Wilhelm Göring, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Rudolf Hess and other close associates of Adolf Hitler (Adolf Hitler). The second row houses lesser known war criminals. The defendants are dressed in strict business suits.

Outwardly, these people do not look like villains. Some of the Nazis exhibit composure and equanimity, but most appear pathetic and lost. Observing indifferently, the former leaders of the fascist party are patiently awaiting the verdict.

Painting The Nuremberg Trials by Laura Knight – a plot that changed the principles of realistic art

The plot deviates somewhat from the principles of realistic art, which the author adhered to throughout her entire work. There is no image of the side wall of the courtroom on the canvas. This allows you to see the ruins of the city outside the Palace of Justice, where the international trial took place in the case of the former leaders of the Third Reich.

The background, which fragmentarily depicts the horrors of war, evokes unsettling feelings. The gloom of the environment is enhanced by dim, greenish lighting. Behind the Nazis lined up a line of military policemen who bring consistency to the picture, a certain structure and create a sense of order.

Title of the painting: “The Nuremberg Trial” (The Nuremberg Trial).
Author: Laura Knight (1877-1970).
Year of writing: 1946
Size: 152.4 x 182.8 cm.
Style: Realism.
Genre: Historical.
Technique: Oil painting.
Material: Canvas.
Location: Imperial War Museum, London, UK.

Laura Knight

Laura Knight, née Laura Johnson, is a prominent representative of Post-Impressionism in European painting of the 19th and 20th centuries, the first woman to become a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. The artist is known for her works on the theme of theater, ballet and circus. During World War II, she created works dedicated to women who took on men’s responsibilities at the front and in the rear.

In 1946, Knight spoke to the War Artists’ Advisory Committee with a proposal to consider the topic of an international trial of the Nazis. Observing the process from the courtroom for three months, Laura created a masterpiece unique in its light transmission technique, compositional solution and emotional impact.

She managed to truthfully portray the once powerful people, turned by justice into frightened spectators of their own defeat. Laura Knight’s painting “The Nuremberg Trials” reflects an event of global significance. The work was coolly received by art critics, but received recognition from those who witnessed difficult trials.