Ruby Loftus screwing a Breech-ring

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Catalogue number
  • Art.IWM ART LD 2850
Production date
1943
Subject period
Materials
  • medium: oil
  • support: canvas
Dimensions
  • Support: Height 863 mm
  • Support: Width 1019 mm
  • Frame: Height 1086 mm
  • Frame: Width 1250 mm
  • Frame: Depth 62 mm
Alternative Names
  • object category: painting
Creator
Category
art
IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUMS

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Object description

image: portrait of a female factory worker operating a lathe

Label

Miss Loftus had been brought to the attention of the War Artist's Advisory Committee as 'an outstanding factory worker'. Knight expected to do a studio portrait but the Ministry of Supply requested that she be painted at work in the Royal Ordnance Factory in Newport.

 

Making a Bofors Breech ring was considered the most highly skilled job in the factory, normally requiring eight or nine years training. Loftus was aged 21 at the time of the painting and had no previous factory experience. Her ability to operate the machine presented a considerable publicity coup at the time. However, it has been suggested that she was placed at the machine precisely for this reason.

 

Industrial machinery was a wholly new element in Knight’s work but her technical accuracy was praised in contemporary reports: Knight, like Loftus, was proving herself in a traditionally male environment.

 

Loftus was an outstanding factory worker who had mastered complex engineering skills in a very short space of time, and Knight was commissioned to paint her at work in the factory. Knight was fascinated by circus artistes and dancers, and she emphasises the balance and posture of her subject at work. Industrial machinery was a wholly new element in Knight's work but her technical accuracy was praised in contemporary reports: Knight, like Loftus, was proving herself in a traditionally male environment.

History note

War Artists Advisory Committee commission

Inscription

Laura Knight

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