18 November 1725|
Steinach am Brenner, Austria
24 July 1804|
Born in Steinach am Brenner near the Austrian city of Innsbruck, Knoller studied under Paul Troger and Michelangelo Unterberger in Salzburg and Vienna. Specializing in frescoes and altarpiece paintings, his first fresco, the Glory of St Stephen, was completed in 1754 at the parish church of Anras in East Tyrol.
In 1755, he arrived in Rome where he was influenced by Neoclassicism, after studying under Anton Raphael Mengs and Johann Joachim Winckelmann. His works cover both Baroque and Rococo, the latter prevailing in his paintings rather than in his frescoes. His greatest patron was Karl Joseph von Firmian, the Imperial Governor of Lombardy under Maria Theresa who commissioned him to paint the Palazzo Firmian-Vigoni. From 1793, he taught at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts in Milan where he died in 1804. Among his pupils was Giuseppe Mazzola.
His works often depict groups of figures, the principal subject always clearly located in the foreground. He uses bright colors, especially for clothing. In Knoller's work, individuals are dominant. He has a less rigid approach to classicism, the colours are less powerful while the composition is clear and well-ordered, free of Baroque pathos. A master of perspective, he depicts his figures in unusual attitudes.
- Anras Church, East Tyrol (1754)
- Karlskirche, Volders near Innsbruck (1765)
- Ettal Abbey near Oberammergau (1769)
- Neresheim Abbey (1770–1775)
- Gries bei Bozen Abbey (1772–1775)
- Palazzo Belgioioso, Milan (1781)
- Taxis Palais, Innsbruck (1785–1786)
- Karlkirche, Volders
- Servitenkirche, Innsbruck
- Parish church of Steinach am Brenner
- St George and the Dragon, Deutschhauskirche, Bolzano
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- Karl Weiß, Knoller, Martin. In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Vol 16, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1882, p. 321–323. (in German)
- Hanns-Paul Ties, Paul Troger, seine Schüler, seine Zeit. Neufunde und Neuzuschreibungen zur Tiroler Barockmalerei, in: Der Schlern, Zeitschrift für Südtiroler Landeskunde, 86, No. 7/8 2012, p. 143 et seq. (in German)