Author of many of the immensely popular Künstler-Monographien series of Velhagen & Klasing publisher. Knackfuß entered the Dusseldorf Academy in 1869 to study (studio) art under E. von Bendemann and E. von Gebhardt. He joined the Hussar regiment for the Franco-Prussian war making drawings of the conflict. He received a travel prize to study in Rome, 1875-1878. Upon his return he married the daughter of the sculptor H. M. Imhof. In 1880 he was called to the Dusseldorf academy to learn art anatomy. He travelled to Greece, Egypt and Asia Minor to sharpen his skills as a history painter. Beginning in 1895, Knackfuß began issuing popular brief monographs on individual artists through the Velhagen & Klasing publishing house under the series title "Künstler-monographien." He personally wrote twelve volumes, some of which were translated into English by the Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum, Campbell Dodgson. His younger brothers were the painter Eduard Knackfuß (1855-1945) and the architectural historian and archaeologist Hubert Knackfuss. He was harshly criticized by the German academic art historian Anton Springer for his simplistic methodology.
Knackfuss, Hermann Joseph Wilhelm
11 August 1848
17 May 1915
Tizian. Bielefeld/Leipzig: Velhagen & Klasing, 1897; Rembrandt. Bielefeld: Velhagen & Klasing, 1899; Van Dyck. Leipzig: Velhagen & Klasing, 1896, English, Van Dyck. Translated by Campbell Dodgson. New York : Lemcke & Buechner, 1899.
Stern, Dorothea. "Knackfuß, Hermann." Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 20 Leipzig: W. Engelmann, 1927, p. 560-561; Stolz, Christa. Hermann Knackfuss: Monographie über e. im 19. Jahrhundert in Wissen geborenen Künstler. Wissen: Nising, 1975.