The ensemble of watercolours by
>> Josephus Augustus Knip * 1777 Tilburg † 1847 Berlicum
was acquired in 2014 from the collection assembled by I.Q. van Regteren Altena (1899-1980). The purchase last year was made possible thanks to significant contributions from the Gerhards Fund/Rijksmuseum Fund, the Rembrandt Association, the VSB Fund and the Mondriaan Fund.
Under Louis Napoleon, who wanted to organize the Dutch art scene according to the French model, a total of 13 artists, including four landscape painters, were sent to Paris and Italy. One of them was the young Josephus Augustus Knip, who was able to stay in Italy from November 1809 to September 1812 thanks to a Prix de Rome scholarship.
He produced eighty sheets in oil paint while he was there (of which few remain) and numerous stunning watercolours of cityscapes and landscapes in and around Rome. The hyper-realistic watercolours have a surprisingly modern feel and are among the most visually stunning works by Knip anywhere in the world.
Knip showed a fondness for the ruins of ancient Roman architecture, to which he responded in a very personal way, without idealization, but rather as a sober observer. Knip’s watercolours were collected by a select group of leading collectors in France and the Netherlands, against the prevailing taste of the time. In general, people were not so keen on the un-Dutch scenes in which ‘the skies were too blue, the water too green and the oxen have horns that are too big’. For a long time everything that was romantic - including the work of Knip - was ignored by museums. In recent years, there has clearly been a turnaround and the exceptional value of Knip’s Italian work is again being recognized. (Text: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)