François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)

François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)

François Cornelis Knoll (Rotterdam 1772 – 1827 Utrecht)

Studies of Saddles, Bridle and Bit

Pen and brown ink, grey wash, heightened with white, framing lines in black ink, 235 x 285 mm (9.3 x 11.2 inch)

Signed or inscribed ‘Knoll’ (lower right, pen and brown ink)

Private collection, The Netherlands


François Cornelis Knoll was born in Rotterdam but moved to Utrecht around 1790, when he was eighteen years old.1 In 1798 he married Christina Martina Bouricius in the village of Schalkwijk, near Utrecht. He was a merchant in wine and other goods by profession and a talented amateur draughtsman. Knoll specialized in still-lifes of dead birds, fish and game and stable interiors, carefully drawn from nature. According to early biographers, notably Christiaan Kramm, his works were highly valued by collectors, and commanded  high prices. Knoll was a ‘liefhebber’ of means – on 5 August 1815 Lammert Mandersloot declared to owe 400 guilders to Knoll, a mortgage for a farmhouse, two barns and eighteen ‘morgen’ farmland.2

In 1807 Knoll was a founding member of the Utrecht drawing society Kunstliefde.3 The society offered drawing lessons for prosperous amateurs, including F.J.O. Boijmans (1774–1847), whose collection later formed the nucleus of the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, and A.J.W. van Dielen, from 1811 mayor of Utrecht. Knoll also exhibited at the annual shows of the Tentoonstelling van Levende Meesters, in Amsterdam, established by Louis Napoleon, for instance in 1820, 1824 and 1826. Knoll’s fellow-amateur M.A. Kuytenbrouwer (1777–1850), also a member of Kunstliefde, may have been comparable to Knoll in that he exhibited at the shows, but did not wish to offer his works for sale, only wishing to place his works with ‘eeniger zijner vrienden’ (some of his friends).

Surviving works by Knoll are exceedingly rare. Among the few extant is a Stable Interior in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, dated 1824, which includes similar horse equipment (see last fig.).4 The carefully observed studies in our drawing do not match the painted equipment in the Rijksmuseum painting exactly, but doubtless Knoll used similar studies during the execution of this work. The present drawing is a particularly impressive and fresh study by this rare artist.


1. For the artist, see Pieter A. Scheen, Lexicon Nederlandse beeldende kunstenaars, 1750-1880, The Hague 1981, p. 274.

2. C. van Schaik, Overlangbroek op de kaart gezet, Hilversum 2008, p. 155.

3. J. van Tilborgh and A. Hoogenboom, Tekenen destijds, Utrecht 1982, p. 19 and J. Roëll, 'De beeldende kunst beoefenen en kunstzin verspreiden', Oud Utrecht 80 (February 2007), p. 18.

4. Oil on panel, 42 x 49.5 cm, inv. no. SK-A-1059; P.J.J. van Thiel, All the paintings of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1976, p. 260, no. A 1059. The painting was included in a sale in Amsterdam (De Vries … Roos), 8-10 November 1824, no. 16: ‘Knoll (F.C.). Een Stil leven, met allerlei soort van huisraad en keukengereedschap, den achtergrond stelt eene koeijenstal voor; alles is van eene voortreffeljike en ware voorstelling, en de behandeling van dit Schilderijtje gelijkt naar die van Gerard Douw; zijnde de stukken van deze nog levende kunst-liefhebber hoogst zeldzaam. Hoog 2 p. 3 d., breed 3 p. 2 d. Paneel.’ (sold to De Vries for fl. 351).

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François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)
François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)
François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)
François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)
François Cornelis Knoll (1772–1827)
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