The Rijksmuseum has had the privilege of acquiring a key part of the Van Regteren Altena collection, even before it came to auction at Christie's. The museum chose a group of 46 spectacular watercolours by the19th-century artist J.A. Knip and a virtuoso early 17th-century landscape by J. de Gheyn. The Van Regteren Altena heirs also donated a group of 69 drawings by 19th-century Dutch artists in Italy. The acquisition by the Rijksmuseum is generously supported by the Vereniging Rembrandt and its Liente Dons Fonds, the Mondriaan Fonds, de BankGiro Loterij, the Rijkspatrons, the Gerhards Fonds/Rijksmuseum Fonds, the VSBfonds and an anonymous gift.
This collection of 46 watercolours by J.A. Knip (1777-1847) is the most important group of works by this Dutch Neoclassicist. With a Prix de Rome scholarship, Knip spent almost three years in Italy from November 1809 to September 1812. It was during this period that he painted his amazing watercolours of cityscapes and landscapes. The hyperrealistic watercolours in muted tones look surprisingly modern and, in visual terms, are part of the most breathtaking group of Knip works.
The drawing Mountainous Landscape with Castle (1603) is the most spectacular drawing of the 25 drawings by De Gheyn from the private collection of the former director of the Rijksmuseum Print Room (1948-62). I.Q. van Regteren Altena was the authority on De Gheyn. The drawing, one of the last great expressions of Mannerist fantasy, marks a turning point in the history of the Dutch landscape in graphic art in the early years of the 17th century. From then on, subsequent generations of Dutch artists set out to depict the world with scientific accuracy.