Behind the Scenes

Ludwig Knaus1880

Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering

Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering

Ludwig Knaus was one of the most beloved German Romantic painters and a member of the Düsseldorf school of painting, the Munich Academy, the Berlin Academy, and many others. He was also professor at the Prussian Academy, Berlin, where he resided for much of his adult life. He was best known for his engaging genre scenes of everyday life across the Bavarian countryside.

In this painting, we are taken Behind the Scenes of a traveling side show; itinerant performers going town to town offering entertainment and earning a living at the same time. This is likely a family affair, evidenced by the clown feeding the infant and the children and dogs beside the cook stove. Personal meets professional, both scattered across the foreground of the painting; a drum, weights, and juggling balls at left, kitchen utensils and household goods at right. The clown’s expression indicates that ‘juggling’ work and family is no easy task.

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