In 1845 at the young age of sixteen Ludwig Knaus enlisted in the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and received his eductation under the tutelage of Carl Sohn and Wilhelm von Schadow. Knaus remained at the academy until 1852 and early on he his discovered distinct style in contrast to his peers and tutors, Knaus' subjects are the country folk and their every day activities.
In the spring of 1852 Knaus left for Paris where, with the exception of a year spent in Italy in 1857-58, he remained until 1860. The singularly most important work from his Italian period is entitled Die Goldene Hochzeit (sold at Sotheby's New York, 3 May 2000, lot 132 for $445,750). Upon his return to Germany he initially lived in Wiesbaden for a year and then moved to Berlin for five years, where with works such as the Die Wochenstube, Der Taschenspieler and Der Schusterjunge he made a name for himself and was able to support himself entirely from the income of his paintings.
Between 1866 and 1874 Knaus lived and worked in Düsseldorf where he was in close contact with his friends from his academy days. He also visited a number of artist colonies and studios. During this seminal period in his career Knaus produced a number of masterpieces but most importantly established important connections and contacts among other artists. In 1874 Knaus was appointed Königlich Preussischen Professor and called to Berlin to serve at the Kunstakademie there. In Berlin he was also entrusted with the founding and management of a paintings studio, where he would tutor Knut Ekvall amongst others. For Knaus teaching was a catalyst that often stimulated his creative side. From this moment on Knaus produced some of his greatest works such as Die heilige Familie (1876), Die salomonische Weisheit (1878) and Das gehetzte Wild (1886).