Richard Payne Knight
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Richard Payne Knight (15 February 1750 – 23 April 1824) was a classicist, antiquarian and mythographer best known for his theories of picturesque beauty (An Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste) and for his interest in ancient phallic imagery (The Worship of Priapus).
He was born at Wormesley Grange, five miles north west of Hereford in Herefordshire, UK, was the son of Rev. Thomas Knight (1697-1764) and nephew and heir of Richard Knight (1693-1765) of Croft Castle. They were two of the sons of Richard Knight, a wealthy Ironmaster of Bringewood Ironworks. He was educated at home, but toured Italy and the European continent from 1767 for several years. He was a collector of ancient bronzes and coins, a Member of Parliament from 1780 to 1806, and an author of numerous books and articles on ancient sculpture, coins and other artefacts. As a member of the Society of Dilettanti, Knight was widely considered to be an arbiter of taste. He bequeathed his collection of bronzes, coins, engraved gems, marbles, and drawings to the British Museum.
- The Worship of Priapus, 1786, privately printed
- An Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste, 1805
- The symbolical language of ancient art and mythology; an inquiry, 1818