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Daniel Ridgeway Knight was born into a Quaker family in 1839, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Daniel Knight enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) and after graduation he vent to France in 1861, a country renowned as the world's art center at that time, where he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Daniel also attended classes by Alexander Cabanel and studied in the atelier of the Swiss artist, Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre.
Daniel spent in France two years, visiting the artist colony at Barbizon and making friends with artists Renoir and Sisley. He was influenced by the new movement of plein air painting.
After the American Civil War broke out, young Daniel Knight at the age of 24 returned to Philadelphia and enlisted in the Union Army in 1864. After the war, he returned to Paris to complete his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.
Moved by the war, Daniel Knight created historical paintings and sketches. Daniel married in 1871 and to support a family was working on numerous portrait commissions, which helped him to save enough funds to return to France with his wife, where they stayed for the rest of their lives.
In France, Daniel Knight painted genre scenes of simple peasant life and countryside, being influenced by the works of the French artist, Jules Breton. In 1888 Daniel Ridgway Knight exhibited several large paintings at main exhibitions and in the Paris Salon he was awarded the third-class gold medal. The same year, he was also awarded a Gold Medal at the Munich Exhibition.
Daniel Ridgway Knight had a contract with the well-established art dealers, Knoedler, who had many galleries in New York and Paris and were selling his paintings on both sides of the Atlantic. This brought Daniel Knight recognition and income stream.
Apart of painting, Daniel Knight also run art classes for aspiring artists. This led to the foundation of the Rolleboise School.
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