Knight’s painting The Nuremberg Trial is quite different from the portraits she had created for the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) to meet a wartime propaganda need for heroes and role models. It seems clear that the subject and the experience moved her, and challenged her into a departure from her usual realist style.Knight was appointed a ‘war correspondent’ for this commission and made a special BBC broadcast from Nuremberg. She gained special access to the broadcasting box just above the prisoners where she was able to make charcoal studies of the main protagonists amongst the lawyers and the accused. Her painting reproduces faithfully the courtroom scene and is, in effect, a group portrait of the prisoners who are shown wearing the cumbersome headphones necessary to hear a translation of the proceedings.However, Knight was deeply disturbed by what she heard during the trial and the painting shows the desolate landscape of Nuremberg intruding right inside the courtroom like a shared nightmare. We are invited to contemplate the dreadful consequences of totalitarian power. The international tribunal at Nuremberg tried twenty-one leading Germans, headed by Hermann Goering. Eleven of the accused were sentenced to death, three to life imprisonment and a further four were given lesser prison terms.


  • Title: The Nuremberg Trial, 1946
  • Creator: Knight, Laura (Dame) (RA)
  • Date Created: 1946
  • Location: Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
  • Physical Dimensions: w1524 x h1828 mm (unframed)
  • Provenance: © IWM (Art.IWM ART LD 5798)
  • Type: painting
  • External Link: Imperial War Museum website
  • Medium: oil

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