Johann Michael Knapp (1791-Stuttgart-1861): The house of Sallust in Pompeii. Watercolour on paper, signed at the bottom right: JM Knapp, Pompeji 1820.
Already at a young age, Knapp was trained at the school of architecture in Karslruhe. After an art education with the famous sculptor Dannecker in Stuttgart, Knapp made several study trips to Italy. In 1840 Knapp was appointed as courtarchitect of the Württemberg court. It is known that Knapp made a trip to Naples and Pompeii in 1820-1821 during which trip our watercolor must made. We see the interior of the house of Sallust, which had been excavated only some 10 years before Knapp's visit, and must have been a sensation to visitors on the Grand Tour to Pompeii. It is one of the city's largest and oldest houses, and the impressive murals are typical of the first period of Pompeiian painting: large rectangular blocks in marble-imitation. Our drawing is now a very special document as the state of the murals has deteriorated over the centuries.
Knapp was not the only architect who refined his knowledge of classical architecture on the spot. Many English and German architects visited the excavations of Rome and Pompeii in the 18th and 19th century to apply the acquired knowledge in their homecountries.
One of Knapp's most famous buildings is the Jubilee Column, built between 1841 and 1846 in Stuttgart on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of King Wilhelm I.
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