Born in Biłgoraj, Poland Stefan Knapp began his artistic training at the Lwów Polytechnic in 1935. After the outbreak of the Second World War, Knapp was imprisoned by the Gulag in Siberia where his artistic pursuits were limited. The artist is said to have spent time fashioning chess sets from bread and playing cards from rubbish to entertain his fellow prisoners. Following his release in 1942, Knapp joined the Polish Armed Forces in the East and was subsequently stationed in Great Britain. He began to train as a pilot, and later served as a Spitfire pilot in the Royal Air Force during the War. During this time Knapp continued to explore his artistic talents, capturing portraits of his squadron.
Following the War, Knapp relocated to London where he attended the Royal Academy and the Slade School of Fine Art with the help of a veteran’s stipend. His experiences during the War, both as a prisoner and as a fighter pilot, were explored significantly in the artist’s work. Using his art as a form of therapy, Knapp was often noted for his large scale works created using experimental techniques such murals featuring glass melted into steel. In the 1960s Knapp painted a number of murals at Heathrow Airport, and later painted a mural for the Warsaw Metro depicting The Battle of Britain. The artist regularly exhibited throughout Europe, and even held a show in Peru, South America. In 1996 the artist died in his studio in London, his final works left unfinished.