Joseph August Knip (1777 - 1847) 

Joseph August Knip (Josephus Augustus Knip) (baptized 3 August 1777, Tilburg - buried 1 October 1847, Berlicum) was a Dutch painter and son of decorative painter Nicolaas Frederik Knip, who was his first teacher. He moved with his family to 's-Hertogenbosch when he was eleven years old. In 1794 the French besieged and captured the town. At nineteen he became the family's breadwinner, after his father went blind. He was also the teacher of his younger sister Henriëtte Geertruida Knip.

 

In 1801 he established himself in Paris, where he accepted commissions for topographical paintings. He also became drawing master to Napoleon III of France. He spent nine years in Paris. At the end of 1809 he went to Rome, where he remained until 1812. He also travelled; making trips to Naples, the Sabine Hills, the Alban Hills, and the CampagnaWatercolors exist from these trips, from places ranging from Palestrina to Terni. In 1813 he returned to the Netherlands with his wife, the painter Pauline Rifer de Courcelles. He settled in 's-Hertogenbosch, where he worked as a painter. He later lived in Amsterdam and in Paris.

 

He went blind in 1832, after which he was given a pension  by William I of the Netherlands. His daughter, of whom he was the first teacher, was Henriëtte Ronner-Knip, who was named after his sister.

A dramatic and imposing maritime view of Fingal's Cave, a natural wonder off the coast of Scotland in the Hebrides, renowned for its striking rock formations of faceted vertical pillars of basalt. 

 

The cave was part of ancient Celtic lore, but had been forgotten until it was rediscovered by the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks in 1772, who published an account in his Voyage in Scotland and the Hebrides.  Several years later, Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond, a French naturalist specializing in volcanic geology, took part in an expedition to the Hebrides, and at the Isle of Staffa made precise measurements of the cave and described the mineralogy of the formations he found there, which he was the first to identify as having a volcanic origin.  These results were published in 1797. 


Knip was commissioned to make two paintings for Faujas' collection, one of Fingal's Cave and the other a view of Staffa.  Picquenot, member of the Rouen Academy, engraved them at the same size as the paintings.  The engravings appear in the official French government registry of prints on September 26, 1804.  An 1805 reference work published in Paris states "The price of these two prints is 24 francs.  They are accompanied by a descriptive text by M. Faujas-de-Saint-Fond.”   This 1805 work reprinted Faujas's text in its entirety "to make clear the interest of these two prints, which deserve the highest praise" (Landon).


Compared with contemporary photographs of the site, however, the proportions of the cave in the print have been made more geometric (and thus more dramatic) in the print, the relative height of the pillars lengthened, and the opening shown relatively wider.  Though an inscription on the print says it was "painted after nature" by Knip, he apparently either relied on sketches by Faujas or others on his expedition, or exercised artistic license in his portrayal.   

4 Dundas Street New Town EH3 6HZ Edinburgh

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