Ludwig Knaus

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Ludwig Knaus: Self-Portrait with Palette , 1890, Museum Wiesbaden
Signature Ludwig Knaus.PNG
Ludwig Knaus , photo around 1860
Photo 1909

Philipp Christian Ludwig Knaus (born October 5, 1829 in Wiesbaden , † December 7, 1910 in Berlin ) was one of the most successful and influential painters of the second half of the 19th century in Germany and a main representative of the Düsseldorf School of Painting . He achieved early fame as a genre painter and also as a portraitist . In addition, his skills were in demand in the advertising industry . By 1900 he had achieved such a high status as a painter that Meyer's Große Konversations-Lexikon devoted one and a half columns to him and summed up: “The genuinely German direction of his view of art culminates in the description of children's life [...]. His pictures have achieved great popularity through engraving and photography. He is a professor, member of the academy, knight of the order pour le mérite and has been in possession of the large medal at the Berlin art exhibition since 1861. “Although Ludwig Knaus was the most successful Wiesbaden painter in the 19th century, you had to go to the 100th anniversary of his death in 2010 in his hometown: “Art history has not mastered the most important Wiesbaden artist. He is also one of the great dead here. "

life and work

Artistic beginnings

View of the Nassau Royal Palace Biebrich , study work of Ludwig Knaus around the year 1846, when this the court painter Otto Reinhold Jacobi worked
Portrait of a young woman , pencil drawing 1846, preliminary study for a woman's portrait in oil from 1848

Ludwig Knaus was the son of an optician who had moved to Wiesbaden from the Swabian town of Waiblingen . The “urge to paint” showed in his early childhood. At school, his artistic talent was encouraged by the drawing teacher Philipp Jakob Albrecht (1779–1860) from Weilburg . He also taught him to the ducal court painter Otto Reinhold Jacobi .

Studied in Düsseldorf

In 1845, at the age of 16, Knaus came to the Düsseldorf Art Academy and, together with Anselm Feuerbach, became a student of Karl Ferdinand Sohn and the Nazarene Wilhelm von Schadow . Knaus studied at the academy until 1852 and found his own style early on. In contrast to his teachers, who cultivated historical, religious and mythological themes, Knaus found his subjects more in genre painting , such as B. The peasant dance (1850), the cardsharps (1851) or the bee father (1851) prove. Kraus raised his sense of reality from the idealistic doctrine represented by Schadow. From the genre painting of the Düsseldorf School he took over the stage-like picture structure with a schematic depth structure as well as the narrative element. He developed it further into a differentiated psychological description of the characters. Within the Düsseldorf genre painting, the painting The Cardsharps shows the so-called gallery tone for the first time , the deliberately historicizing recourse to the painting tradition of the 17th century Dutch, which was also understood by contemporaries as a kind of quotation.

Freelance in Düsseldorf

He left the academy in 1848 because of disputes with Schadow. Together with the brothers Andreas and Oswald Achenbach , Joseph Fay , Benjamin Vautier u. a. he founded the artists' association Malkasten , which made him an honorary member in 1898, and earned his living in Düsseldorf as a portraitist. For the school year 1848, the student lists of the Düsseldorf Academy noted: "Left Düsseldorf for a few months and, like so many, was infected by the political goings-on ."

Studies in Willingshausen and in the Hotzenwald

In the summer of 1849 was Knaus - suggestions from Jakob Becker and Jacob Fear God Dielmann following - the first time to ethnographic studies with his friend Adolf Schreyer in Willingshausen in the Schwalm . It was in those years that his main works were written; The funeral in a Hessian village (1871), The Siblings (1872) or The Advice of Haunstein Farmers (1873). In the southern Black Forest , in the Hotzenwald , he conducted figure studies in 1850 and was particularly interested in the local rural costume . In 1851 he was portrayed by Hermann Steinfurth . Hermann Steinfurth bequeathed the painting to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1880 .

17 years in Paris and traveling

Double portrait of the daughters Marie and Hedwig Knaus (1862–1873), 1864

In 1852 Knaus visited the art collector Barthold Suermondt in Aachen . In November he traveled to Paris , the then European capital of culture. There he frequented u. a. with Franz Xaver Winterhalter and Anselm Feuerbach . In 1853, he received a gold medal in the salon of the great spring exhibition . From Paris, Knaus visited Barbizon and Fontainebleau in April and May to draw landscape studies. In June he traveled via Brussels , Antwerp , Ghent , Bruges , Ostend to Düsseldorf and Wiesbaden. In January 1854 Knaus returned to Paris. In November 1855 the world exhibition there was a high point of his career, which he sent with various paintings. For his picture Gypsies in the forest he was awarded a first class medal. In December he was back in Wiesbaden.

In May 1856 Knaus traveled to England, where he visited the Crystal Palace , museums and exhibitions in London . In June Knaus was back in Germany, traveling via Düsseldorf to Dresden , Bohemia and Stuttgart . In October he drove back to Paris from Wiesbaden. In 1857 he stayed in Fontainebleau and then traveled to England with Suermondt. In October 1857 Knaus traveled to Italy. The stations were u. a. Venice , Padua , Turin , Genoa and Rome . In December he went on a trip to the Sabine Mountains . In Italy, far from his homeland, Knaus discovered that he “likes the interesting, cozy German genre far better” than the Italian “folk life” . In April 1858 Knaus traveled via Terracina , Capua to Naples , to arrive in Wiesbaden in June.

Farmer in Hessian costume , 1848/1852

In July he was back in Willingshausen. At the end of September he returned to Paris, where he took over the studio from Winterhalter. One of the most important works that he began to paint in Willingshausen in September is The Golden Wedding . In 1859 Knaus traveled to Germany, England and Belgium from January to October. In October he married Henriette Hoffmann, the daughter of the owner of the "European Court" in Wiesbaden. Then he went back to Paris. During his time in Paris, Kraus developed his style of painting with a new colorism .

A girl in the field

Back in Germany

The Dissatisfied One (1877)

In June 1860 Knaus finally returned to Germany, where he had a studio built in his hometown Wiesbaden on the Geisberg. In the fall of 1861 he moved to Berlin. In the following years he stayed several times in Wiesbaden, Willingshausen and the Black Forest. In June 1867 he traveled to the world exhibition in Paris, where his paintings Highness on Travel , Invalids with wheat beer and Card-playing shoemaker boys in the presence of the court of Napoleon III. were awarded the Great Golden Medal of Honor and the Officer's Cross of the Legion of Honor .

Stopover in Düsseldorf

Clay Cake (1873)
Portrait of Hermann von Helmholtz (1881)

In the late autumn of 1867 Knaus moved to Düsseldorf - Pempelfort , where he had a house built at 138 Duisburger Strasse. There he was in lively exchange with his colleagues from the art academy. His eleven-year-old daughter Hedwig died in July 1873. She was buried in the Golzheimer Friedhof ( tombstone on the Golzheimer Friedhof ).

Permanent residence in Berlin

When Knaus was appointed "Royal Prussian Professor" in 1874 and appointed to the Academy of Fine Arts , he took up his permanent residence in the capital of the Reich . In Berlin he was entrusted with the management of a master's atelier. There was u. a. Knut Ekvall his pupil. In 1879 he and his family moved into the newly built house at Hildebrandstrasse 17.

Fire in the village (the conflagration)

Knaus had become so popular as a portraitist that the National Gallery in Berlin commissioned him to paint portraits of the historian Theodor Mommsen and the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz . The National Gallery himself honored him by buying a marble portrait half-figure created by the sculptor Otto Lessing , which was destroyed in the Second World War.

From Berlin, Knaus visited Willingshausen three more times over the next few years. He also traveled abroad, in 1884 to London, 1885 to Vienna and Budapest, 1889 to Paris, 1898 to Rome and in 1909 to Paris for the last time. In honor of Ludwig Knaus' seventieth birthday, the Bismeyer & Kraus art dealer organized a small exhibition in Düsseldorf. These included portraits of artists from the collection of the Malkasten Artists' Association and his portrait at the age of around twenty-three, painted by Julius Roeting , from the short time they spent together in Paris.

Ludwig Knaus died on December 7, 1910 in Berlin and was buried in the Dahlem cemetery.



Hop farmer (1895)
  • Infanta Margarita copy after the painting Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, oil / canvas, around 1853/1860, 68 × 58 cm, private collection (Boekels 1999, p. 260)
  • Le Matin, après la fête de Village / The morning after the party. 1853, oil / canvas, 108 × 139 cm, Moscow, State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
  • The morning after the festival [drawing based on the painting of the same name], 1853, black chalk and pencil, washed, heightened opaque white, on white paper, laid down on cardboard, 52.5 × 66 cm, private collection (ibid., P. 316 and p . 485, No. 123)
  • Harlequin (1847)
  • The Peasant Dance (1850)
  • Barthold Suermondt , (around 1850), Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum in Aachen
  • The Players (1851)
  • The father bee (1851)
  • Age does not protect against folly (1851)
  • The funeral in the forest met by a criminal (1852)
  • Countess Helfenstein asks to spare her husband (1852)
  • The pickpocket at the fair (1852)
  • The Promenade (1855)
  • The golden wedding (1858)
  • Baptism (1859)
  • The Checkers (1862), portraits of the artist's father and father-in-law
  • David Hansemann , portrait
  • The excerpt to the dance
  • The nursery
  • The sleight of hand
  • Your highness on the road
  • The cobbler boy
  • The lyre man
  • The Children's Festival (1869)
  • The funeral in a Hessian village (1871)
  • The Goose Girl (1872)
  • In a Thousand Fears (1872)
  • The siblings (1872)
  • Advising the Hauenstein farmers (1873)
  • The Holy Family (1876)
  • On Bad Roads (1876)
  • The Unruly Model (1877)
  • Solomonic Wisdom (1878)
  • Behind the Scenes (1880)
  • The Bacchante (1886)
  • The Hunted Game (1886)
  • A forester's home (1886)
  • The sweet tooth (1897)

Illustrations (selection)

Digitized edition of the University and State Library Düsseldorf :

  • In: Aquarelle Dusseldorf artists: dedicated to the art-loving women. - Düsseldorf: Arnz, 1861. English edition: Aquarels of Düsseldorf artists. - Düsseldorf: Arnz, 1852. ( Digitized German edition , Digitized English edition )
  • In: Howitt, Mary Botham. The Dusseldorf artist's album. - Dusseldorf: Arnz, 1854. Digitized edition
  • In: Stieler, K./Wachenhusen, H. / Hackländer, FW: Rheinfahrt: From the sources of the Rhine to the sea. - Stuttgart: Kröner, 1875. Digitized edition

Exhibitions (selection)

  • 1979: Ludwig Knaus, 1829-1910 , Museum Wiesbaden
  • 2014: Ludwig Knaus , Museum Wiesbaden , Wiesbaden.


  • Ludwig Pietsch: Knaus. Bielefeld / Leipzig 1896.
  • Anna Ahrens: Knaus, Ludwig In: Bénédicte Savoy, France Nerlich (Hrsg.): Paris apprenticeship years. A lexicon for training German painters in the French capital. Volume 2: 1844-1870. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2015.
  • Notes from the Willingshausen Chronicle. 1909.
  • Kaspar Kögler : Ludwig Knaus in his relationship with his hometown Wiesbaden. In: Messages of the Association for Nassau Antiquity and Historical Research. Vol. 14, No. 4, January 1911, pp. 103 ff.
  • Exhib. Cat .: Memorial exhibition in honor of Ludwig Knaus. Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden 1912.
  • Knaus, Ludwig . In: Hans Vollmer (Hrsg.): General lexicon of fine artists from antiquity to the present . Founded by Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker . tape 20 : Kaufmann – Knilling . EA Seemann, Leipzig 1927, p. 570 .
  • Carl Banzer: Hessen in German painting. Third increased edition. NG Elwert'sche Verlagbuchhandlung, Marburg / Lahn 1950.
  • Exhib. Cat .: Ludwig Knaus, Neues Museum - Gemäldegalerie Wiesbaden. Wiesbaden 1951.
  • Clemens Weiler : Ludwig Knaus and Willinghausen. In: Hessian homeland. 1st year, 1951, issue 3, p. 42 ff.
  • Alexander Hildebrand: The painter Ludwig Knaus. In: Wiesbaden International. 4/1979, p. 22 ff.
  • Heinz-Friedrich Author: In memoriam Ludwig Knaus, The local artist was highly respected and popular in Wiesbaden. In: Wiesbaden life. 28th vol., Issue 9, 1979, p. 19 f.
  • Ludwig Knaus 1829–1910. Exhibition catalog. Museum Wiesbaden, 1979.
  • Eva-Suzanne Bayer-Klötzer:  Knaus, Ludwig. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 12, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1980, ISBN 3-428-00193-1 , pp. 165-167 ( digitized version ).
  • Jörg Kuhn: Otto Lessing (1846–1912), sculptor, painter, craftsman. Life and work of a sculptor of late historicism with special consideration of his work as a building sculptor. Dissertation. Free University of Berlin 1994 (reading copy, inter alia, in the art library of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Prussian cultural heritage).
  • Bernhard Maaz et al. (Ed.): Alte Nationalgalerie Berlin, catalog of sculptures, Das XIX. Century. Berlin / Leipzig 2006, Volume I, Introduction (illustration of the sculpture hall of the Alte Nationalgalerie before 1900).

Web links

Commons : Ludwig Knaus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. He was one of the preferred selection of contemporary artists that the "Committee for the Procurement and Assessment of Stollwerck Pictures" suggested to the Cologne chocolate producer Ludwig Stollwerck to commission them with drafts. See: Detlef Lorenz: Reklamekunst um 1900. Artist lexicon for collecting pictures. Reimer-Verlag, 2000.
  2. Knaus, Ludwig . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition. Volume 11, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1907, p.  168 .
  3. Alexander Hildebrand: Little Wiesbadener in the big world, Ludwig Knaus, on the 100th anniversary of the painter's death. In: Wiesbaden Courier. November 30, 2010, p. 18.
  4. ^ Wend von Kalnein : The Düsseldorf School of Painting. Verlag Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1979, ISBN 3-8053-0409-9 , p. 369.
  5. ^ Ute Rickel-Immel: The Düsseldorf genre painting. In: Wend von Kalnein, p. 159.
  6. Wend von Kalnein, p. 369
  7. Ute Ricke-Immel, p. 159.
  8. Clemens Weiler: Ludwig Knaus and Willinghausen. In. Hessische Heimat, 1st year, 1951, issue 3, p. 45.
  9. Bernd Fäthke: The subject of landscape and Ludwig Knaus. In: exhib. Cat .: Ludwig Knaus 1829–1910. Museum Wiesbaden 1979, p. 49 ff.
  10. Else Müller, b. Knaus: Memories of Ludwig Knaus. MS, Museum Wiesbaden 1949, p. 49.
  11. Clemens Weiler: Ludwig Knaus and Willinghausen. In: Hessische Heimat, 1.Jg., 1951, Heft 3, p. 46.
  12. Sigrid Russ: The "interesting cozy German genre". In: exhib. Cat .: Ludwig Knaus 1829–1910. Museum Wiesbaden 1979, p. 31.
  13. Wend von Kalnein, p. 369.
  14. ^ Ulrich Schmidt: Biographical overview, Ludwig Knaus 1829-1910. In: exhib. Cat .: Ludwig Knaus 1829–1910. Museum Wiesbaden 1979, p. 11.
  15. Knaus, Prof., Duisburgerstrasse 138 , in the address book of the Lord Mayor's Office in Düsseldorf for 1873, p. 4.
  16. Died July 1873 Hedwig Knaus, 11 years old, Duisburgerstrasse. In: Düsseldorfer Volksblatt, No. 153, of July 3, 1873
  17. ^ From exhibitions and collections, p. 95 , in Art for All , Fifteenth Year, 1988–1900
  18. Fig. In: Ernst Günther Grimme : "The Suermondt Museum." Aachener Kunstblätter ed. v. Peter Ludwig , Volume 28. Meyer, Aachen, 1963, p. 9.
  19. A soulful look at ordinary people. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung from August 10, 2014, p. R4.