Who was Jeremias Joseph Knechtel? A Few Remarks about an Unknown Baroque Painter from Bohemia
Jeremias Joseph Knechtel came from Česká Kamenice. Having moved to Legnica around 1700, Knechtel obtained city rights and became the guild member there. When he applied for the post of the court painter in Prague in 1730, he hoped his career would blossom closer the center of the Habsburg monarchy. In 1735 Christian Müller got the honored title and Knechtel’s dream was never fulfilled. Nowadays there are 180 known works by the Master from Legnica. The paintings executed during the “baroquisation” of the Jesuit church in Świdnica (1700–1720) are typical for Knechtel’s early work and ilustrate the Prague inspirations in his style. In the Knechtel’s later works the dynamic narration and the analogies to Czech art are reduced at the expense of the devotional depictions of individual saints or the subtle scenes illustrating the Life of Mary. Knechtel worked for Jesuits, Franciscans, Benedictines, Cistercians and Augustinians. Cistercian abbot Geyer was one of the most important patrons of the artist. Knechtel executed the cycle of the Fictional Portraits of the Piast Dukes of Silesia (1720) for him. The master from Legnica was also inspired by the works of the Michael Leopold Willmann. Two cycles of the Stations of the Cross by Knechtel’s workshop are based on the copperplates designed by Willmann. The painter worked for the noble families. Most of them were Habsburg-oriented Catholics, with one exception: August von Uechteritz. In 1735 he commissioned works by Knechtel for the protestant church in Giebułtów.
Key words: Jeremias Joseph Knechtel; Baroque Painter; Bohemia