Daniel Ridgway Knight grew up in Philadelphia, the child of a Quaker household where art and music were forbidden. Daniel’s grandfather persuaded his parents to allow him to study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After two years there, Ridgway Knight sailed for Paris.
His schooling completed, Ridgway Knight returned to Philadelphia after three years in Paris and Rome. He married and opened a studio and in 1871 he and his wife boarded the passage to France. Ridgway Knight lived there for the rest of his life. The couple lived first in Paris and then, moved to the village of Poissy. There, Ridgway Knight met the artist Ernest Meissonier and he took the young American under his wing. Ridgway Knight adopted his mentor’s careful attention to detail and documentation.
Ridgway Knight specialized in peasant scenes, a genre popular among American collectors in the 1880s and 90s. Ridgway Knight painted in the Realist style—but made sure to choose pretty models.