The True Story Behind

Knoxville Artist, Joseph Knaffl's 

"Madonna and Child"


About the Artist


Christmas Cards


The Story Begins...

The lifetime dream of Knoxville artist/photographer, Joseph Knaffl, was fulfilled in 1899 with his award-winning photograph, The “Knaffl Madonna & Child”. He got the idea from looking at the image in the full moon. He achieved success and fame with this world famous photograph depicting a biblical study of the Holy Mother, Mary, holding baby Jesus. Thousands of this highly acclaimed portrait were sold locally & around the world in 1899 and the 1900’s. Its fame was endorsed by a New York newspaper, giving it a full page news story. This Knoxville photograph also won many international awards & medals. It was very much in demand.

Several Sittings Were Required

The photograph was made in Knoxville, TN in Knaffl’s studio on Gay Street, the main street. They chose 18 year old Emma Franz, who later became Mrs. Albert Hope, as the Madonna. Ignoring gender considerations, Joseph chose his own baby daughter, Josephine, as baby Jesus. The clanging of the street cars outside of the building frightened the baby and made her cry. It wasn’t until the third attempt days later on a quiet Sunday afternoon that success was achieved. His lifelong dream fulfilled.

Hallmark Made Two Christmas Cards

A few years ago, The Hallmark Company thought so highly of Knaffl’s “Madonna & Child” photograph that they offered two separate Christmas Cards using the photo with the Biblical scripture, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.” A tribute to the Knaffl portrait.

The Process

The original photograph was created in 1899 using state-of-the-art photography of its time. The process we have used today to re-create this color copy is by using the latest in digital photography equipment to achieve the ultimate in quality, softness and life-like color. Photo is printed on heavy, textured, acid-free, pigmented stock that will not fade, wither or destruct over time. It is a true reproduction of this over a century old, world famous photograph. Now being re-issued by Joseph Knaffl’s grandson, David Baker, as a tribute to his mother, Josephine Knaffl Baker, who was baby Jesus in the photograph.




Madonna and Child   ·    Knaffl Madonna    ·    1495 Touraine Place    ·    Knoxville, TN 37919   ·    865.523.0063