Rijnsburg Abbey was founded in 1133 by Petronella, Countess of Holland, as a convent of the Benedictine order for women of noble birth. The abbey was dedicated to the Virgin and Saint Lawrence, and became the burial place for the Counts of Holland. The abbey was destroyed in 1574 during the Siege of Leiden by Spanish forces following the revolt of William the Silent. The romantic ruins provided inspiration to artists including Cuyp (a picture in the Detroit Institute of Art) and de Vlieger (a drawing in the Witt Collection at the Courtauld Gallery) as well as van de Velde.
Jan van de Velde used this view, shifting the viewpoint slightly and extending the scene to the right and left, in the third of his six etchings illustrating Dutch views published in 1616. Drawings by the artist directly related to his prints are rare, with one of the few other examples being a Landscape with ruins and a monumental gateway in the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, made in preparation for another series of Dutch views also published in 1616 (G. Luijten and A.W.F.M. Meij, From Pisanello to Cézanne, exhib. cat., New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, and elsewhere, 1990-1991, no. 27). Ger Luijten suggests that the fluidity of van de Velde's etchings may indicate that the artist may simply have been able to 'draw' with the needle directly on the etching ground (G. Luijten and A.W.F.M. Meij, loc. cit.).
The attribution to van de Velde was first suggested to Paul Oppé by Professor I.Q. van Regteren Altena.
We are grateful to Peter Schatborn for his help in cataloguing this drawing.