Ludwig Knaus was a German painter of genre scenes. He is often associated with the Dusseldorf School of Painting, although not wholly contrived to their style, producing somber and gloomy compositions, as well as several light colors and pleasant atmosphere.
In order to delve further into Knaus’ artwork, it is essential to cover the Dusseldorf school of painting, which was a group of painters who studied or taught at the Academy mentioned above. Finely detailed landscapes characterized Their style, often with allegorical or religious stories set in the composition. They also advocated a composition with even colors, applying a sober and somewhat subdued palette. The Dusseldorf School was a significant influence on US’ own Hudson River School, training some of their most prominent members such as William Morris Hunt, Albert Bierstadt, and Worthington Whittredge, to name a few.
Knaus’ early artworks, such as The Gamblers, followed many of said characteristics of the Dusseldorf School, such as the use of a heavy color palette, resulting in a rather gloomy atmosphere. This would change upon his travel to Paris in 1852 when he began to be taught by Thomas Couture. Knaus achieved recognition in 1853, when he received the second gold medal of the distinguished Paris Salon, with his The Morning After. In 1857, he executed what is arguably his most famous painting, A Girl on the Field. Knaus remained in Paris until 1860.
Between 1861 and 1866, Knaus was practicing in Berlin, when he executed many famous artworks. Over the next eight years, Knaus would produce some of his most of his best artworks, such as In Great Distress, The Children’s Festival, and The Village Prince. From 1874 until 1883, Knaus was a Royal Prussian Academy professor, in Berlin.
Knaus received several distinctions throughout his life, such as the gold medal at the Berlin exhibition in 1861. At the Paris Exhibition of 1867, Knaus was awarded the grand medal of honor. He also became a Knight of the Prussian Order and an Officer of the Legion of Honor.
Engraving reproductions of his artwork were quite popular between the German peasantry.