"...The pairing brought to light themes of "sexuality, death, and sin."
Rachel Kneebone was born in Oxfordshire. She graduated in 1997 with a First Class BA (Hons) degree from U.W.E, Bristol. In 2004, Kneebone graduated with an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London.
In 2005, she was nominated for the MaxMara Art Prize for Women alongside Anne Hardy, Anj Smith, Margaret Salmon and Donna Huddleston. In the same year, Kneebone contributed work to a show The Way We Work at the Camden Arts Centre, London.
In 2005, Kneebone was commissioned to do a wall sculpture by Mario Testino for the Diana, Princess of Wales exhibition at Kensington Palace.
In July – August 2006, Kneebone had her first solo exhibition in London at Madder Rose gallery, which included a number of sculptures such as Loves all-worshipped tomb, where all love's pilgrims come (2005). All the works in this show sold out on the opening night. Reviewer Katarina Horrox commented that Kneebone's "carefully crafted sculptures witness various organic forms merging ambiguously into human body-parts as they climb elegantly up walls. Suggestive yet sensitive, her creations harp back to Ovid's Metamorphoses, whilst their fixed immobility implies a transgression of time and motion."
In 2007, The Evening Standard highlighted Kneebone as one to watch thanks to her "beautiful and sexy hand-moulded porcelain sculptures". In September 2007, Kneebone's work was included in the opening group exhibition An Archaeology at Project Space 176 in London's Chalk Farm area.
In 2008, Kneebone began to be represented by Jay Jopling and the White Cube gallery in London. Kneebone's first solo show with White Cube The Descent was in February 2009.
In 2008, Tracey Emin selected a work by Kneebone to include in her room at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. Emin said: "Her work is exciting for me – porcelain figurines, vulnerable and with an eighteenth-century look. I like Georgian things – my house was built in 1729, and I like simplicity and straight lines."
She is known for finely sculpted white porcelain works of various organic forms merging ambiguously into human body-parts. Her work has been described as depicting an "erotic state of flux" and "celebrating forms of transgression, beauty and seduction."
Her work is said to be influenced by ancient Greek and Roman myths in Ovid's poem Metamorphoses and the "seductive, mythological paintings" of 18th century artist François Boucher.
In January 2009, Kneebone spoke to the Tate Etc. magazine about William Blake's work The Primaeval Giants Sunk in the Soil (1824–1827), from Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, 8th circle of Hell.
A 2012 exhibition of Kneebone's work at the Brooklyn Museum entitled Rachel Kneebone: Regarding Rodin showcased 8 of her original works next to 15 works from Auguste Rodin that Kneebone had personally selected. The pairing brought to light themes of "sexuality, death, and sin."