Charles Wilson Knapp

American, 1823 - 1900
Charles W. Knapp was born in Philadelphia. He worked in Cleveland from the mid-1850s to the mid-1860s, with a stint in New York City around 1860, before settling permanently in Philadelphia. Although little is known of his personal life, Knapp left behind a substantial painted legacy, and the locations of his landscapes can tell us something of his travels. His often painted New Hampshire, including Mount Washington, Mount Chocorua, and Mount Kearsage, Franconia Notch, and the Saco and Androscoggin Rivers, and he also painted scenes in the Green Mountains, Adirondacks, Berkshires, Catskills, and along the Delaware and Susquehanna Rivers.

Knapp exhibited his work widely, including at the National Academy of Design, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Union League Club of Philadelphia, Young Men's Association, Troy, New York; Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, Cosmopolitan Art Association, Sandusky, Ohio; Cincinnati Associated Artists, Detroit Art Association, Cleveland Sanitary Fair, 1864; Chicago Interstate Industrial Exposition, 1874; Louisville Industrial Exposition, 1875; and the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, 1878. His works can be found in the collections of the Albany Institute of History and Art, New York; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia; Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, Burlington; New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord; Sewell C. Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, Delaware; and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
Little is actually known about Charles W. Knapp's formal schooling, which is the case in so many of the artist in the past century. Like several 19th century landscape painters he labored in relative obscurity. It is only now that the work of the nineteenth Century landscape painters' is getting so scarce that research to uncover some of the less known artist is taking the forefront.

Charles W. Knapp was a good Philadelphia painter who worked briefly in New York City (1859-1861) and is known to have traveled in the Allegheny's and the Catskills. In 1859 he exhibited three paintings, all scenes of Massachusetts, at the National Academy of Design. The next year he exhibited three more paintings, all of the Catskill Mountains.

As in most of Knapp's paintings, "The Valley" is a characteristic response to nature and of his implementation of the Hudson River principles. He seems to have been partial to prevailing calm, a general atmospheric clarity. One notices Knapp's careful rendering of specific details, his smooth paint surface, horizontal format, and the approximate division of the composition. These are basic considerations of a mode of painting within the general Hudson River School that have come to be referred to as "Luminism".

Mantle Fielding's, Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers
Who Was Who In American Art, Peter Falk
The New York Historical Society's, Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860
Mallett's Index of Artists, International Biographical, by Daniel Trowbridge Mallett
E. Benezit, Dictionnaire of Painters, Sculptors and Engravers

Biography courtesy of Roughton Galleries,
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