Before the Second World War, Laura Knight (née Johnson) was an established artist with a distinguished career, having graduated from Nottingham School of Art (where she met her future husband, the celebrated portrait painter Harold Knight (1874-1961)). In 1929 she was made a Dame for her services to art, and by 1936 was elected Royal Academician, the first woman to become a full member of the Royal Academy.
As soon as the Ministry of Information established the War Artists' Committee in 1939, Knight was commissioned to do a number of paintings for the government, including posters for the 'Lend a Hand on the Land' campaign.
Knight's most celebrated wartime work depicted a woman munitions worker called ‘Ruby Loftus' screwing the breech-ring in a Bofors gun. This delicate operation, thought impossible for a woman to do, furthered the case for women's involvement in the Home Front.
In 1946, at the age of sixty-eight, Knight took on a unique assignment, painting the war crimes' trial at Nuremberg. Providing this pictorial record, she was rated officially as a war correspondent.