Charles Wilson Knapp was born in Philadelphia in 1823. He worked primarily in Pennsylvania, New York State, New Jersey, the Susquehanna River Valley, the area around the Delaware Water Gap, and the Berkshire Mountains. He especially enjoyed painting the hills and rocky valleys of the Susquehanna River area, a favorite region for generations of artists prior to Knapp and his contemporaries. These landscapes were exhibited at the National Academy of Design soon after they were completed.
Knapp shows the beauty of nature in his paintings, whether in the vastness of the landscapes or in their detail. He was accomplished at achieving the effects of light and atmosphere. His work follows in the tradition of mid-19th century painting and of the Hudson River School.
His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Albany Institute of History and Art, the Robert Hull Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH.
The artist died on May 15, 1900.