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A master of religious plastic art, b. at Fliess, Tyrol, in 1819; d. at Munich in 1881. He was the son of poor parents, and was first apprenticed to Renn, a wood-carver at Imst, after which he studied ancient German wood-carving at Munich under Entres. Later he worked in the studio of Sickinger, and became, in 1859, a professor at the polytechnical school of the "Verein fur Hebung des Gewerbes". In 1859 he entered the art institute of Mayer. The chair of ecclesiastical sculpture at the Academy of Munich was entrusted to him (1863) in recognition of his principal work, the "Coronation of The Virgin" in the Frauenkirche. The figure of Mary, which is more than life size, stands at the middle of the high-altar, with six angels doing her reverence. The crown is laid on her head by the Heavenly Father and His Divine Son, between whom hovers the Holy Ghost; forms of saints and angels appear in the beautiful framework. The composition and execution, the harmonious grouping and draping of the figures, show a masterly technique. Knabl also studied antique art as well as nature. His manner was original. From the Middle Ages he seems to have derived only religious inspiration; the above-mentioned work breathes genuine piety. His other works chiefly in wood, are characterized by a strong and deeply religious feeling, not at all sentimental, the softness and delicacy of his colouring are perhaps in many cases excessive. Knabl is one of the Romantics, and frequently recalls Overbeck and Fuhrich. Like these he is a lover of the German Middle Ages and of what appeals to the German people, into whose life and character his travels through Tyrol, Swabia, and the Rhine country gave him a deep insight. His work at the Mayer Institute, where he not only produced numerous drawings and sketches, but also trained capable scholars, was of very important practical benefit for the diffusion of a cultivated taste in religious art. Most of his works are in Bavaria (Munich, Haidhausen, Passau, Eichstadt, Velden), but there are also some in Stuttgart, Mergentheim, and in other places. The subjects are: "Christ and the Apostles", "Christ on the Cross", several single statues of the Madonna (one for Lord Acton), the Madonna in a group, St. Anne (much admired at the Munich Exposition of 1858 on account of its artistic draping). A group of St. Afra (Augsburg) was the first of the artist's works to attract attention. He left a son, Karl (d. 15 June, 1904), who studied painting in the school of Piloty and became a successful landscape artist.
REGNET, Gesch. der Munchener Kunst (Leipzig, 1871); PECHT, Gesch. der Munchener des 19. Jahrh. (Munich, 1888).