Therese Knowles, internationally known painter.

Therese is one of an elite group of 8 artisans known as Indian River School painters, whose work is featured at the prestigious A.E. Backus Gallery in Fort Pierce, Florida. Highly regarded for the skill and quality of their artwork, their beautiful paintings, primarily of Florida landscapes, have continued to increase in value.

These exceptional artists were students or close artistic compatriots of A. E. "Bean" Backus of Fort Pierce, Florida's preeminent landscape painter, (b.1906 - d.1990).

From the 1930s through the 1950s, much of Backus' work was impressionistic. Monet had been one of his early influences, and the French artist's use of color was adapted on Backus' early Florida canvases. Paintings from this period are characterized by Backus' heavy use of the palette knife. He first became known for his still lifes of the ever-present hibiscus and later for his landscapes of Florida's backwoods. Backus's career began to blossom in 1950, about the time he married.

Therese Knowles was born Therese Germain Vellier in Fountanbleu, France on June 8, 1918. Her mother was a talented dress designer whose artistic talent was passed on to her daughter. Therese was schooled in France.

In 1946 Therese married Daniel N. Knowles, Jr., (whose name you may already know, if you've ever owned property in Florida's St. Lucie County). Now retired, and a 77 year resident of Fort Pierce, Daniel Knowles spent 34 years working for the county, 16 of those years as Tax Collector.

Daniel Knowles was a close friend of both A.E. Backus and Backus's father, (who was a well known boat builder).

Backus was a bohemian by nature. His studio became a place to congregate.

After Backus lost his much loved wife to complications from heart surgery in 1955, he devoted himself to his art, the daily consumption of a quantity of rum, good conversation, good friends and fellow artists who benefited from his formal mentoring, one of whom was Therese Knowles.

Daniel Knowles had introduced his wife Therese to his friend A.E. (Beanie) Backus, and as Knowles puts it, once Backus began teaching Therese to paint, it was "Katy bar the door".

Backus's studio had other early visitors whose artwork has now become well known.

In 1995, art critic Jim Fitch, in an article for Antiques & Art Around Florida (Winter/Spring 1995 issue) bestowed the name "The Highwaymen" on a group of black artists who have been working on the East coast of Florida from approximately 1955 to the present. He chose the name "The Highwaymen" for the artists, because their marketing and sales strategy consisted of traveling the highways and byways of central Florida peddling their paintings out of the back of their cars. Back in 1955, painting, for them, was perceived as being a way out of the fields and groves.

Most of the aspiring young black artists who congregated at Backus's studio were content to learn to paint by osmosis, by observation. One seemed more eager to learn than the others. Alfred Hair, (now deceased), was the only one of the "Highwaymen" group of painters to take formal lessons from Backus.

Backus continued to teach and mentor long time friend and talented artist, Therese Knowles. This painting in particular was strongly influenced by early Backus work, as evidenced by her bold use of the palette knife, impressionistic rendering of her subject matter, and choice of colors, reminiscent of those favored by her fellow countryman, Monet.

Daniel Knowles, who remembers every painting his wife ever painted, told us he regrets that his wonderfully talented wife Therese, now 85, is no longer able to paint. They have no other paintings available for sale.

Her work, rarely available, primarily in private collections, has alternately been signed "Therese", Therese Knowles", and "Therese V.Knowles".

View five of Therese Knowles paintings which are currently on display at the A.E. Backus Gallery . While admiring those paintings you may wish to note comparable sizes and prices.


Daniel Knowles 772-461-6420 080103