Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (Dutch, 1803-1862)
Barend Cornelis Koekkoek is generally considered to be the most important landscape painter of the Dutch Romantic period. The artist was born on the 11th of October 1803 in Middelburg as the eldest of four children. His father, the river- and seascape painter Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek, was his first teacher. At thirteen Koekkoek was a student at the local academy and attended the evening classes of Abraham Kraystein. A scholarship awarded by the Dutch Government made it possible for Koekkoek to attend the art academy in Amsterdam, where he became a pupil of Jean Augustin Daiwaille whom he befriended and worked with during the rest of his career. Koekkoek undertook several journeys along the Rhine, the Ahr and the Ruhr from both The Netherlands and the old Ducal city of Cleves where the artist had settled permanently in 1834. These trips gave him the opportunity, while drawing and studying from nature, to get to know the landscapes and motives, which he subsequently worked out in paintings in his studio. Koekkoek's lesson-book for young painters, Herinneringen en Mededeelingen van eenen landschapsschilder, which was published in Amsterdam in 1841, was conceived as a description of such a journey along the Rhine, whereby he took the reader as a pupil by the hand, drawing his attention to the many specialities and characteristics of landscape and the architectural elements within it. In the year of the book's publication, Koekkoek founded a drawing academy in Kleef, where he instructed many young artists who wished to be tutored by such a successful painter in the art of painting according to the rules of his book. The basis was laid for what later became known as 'Cleves Romanticism.' In the 1840's, Koekkoek had reached the height of his artistic mastery. He was awarded a Gold Medal in Paris for a landscape painted for the Prince of Orange, who later became King Willem II of the Netherlands. On seeing this painting in The Hague, the successor to the Russian throne, the later Tsar Alexander II ordered a pendant of the work. Three years later he received his second Gold Medal at the Paris Salon, confirming his status as the leading Romantic landscape painter of his time. Continuing to strengthen his pre-eminence in the artistic community throughout his career and leaving a lauded oeuvre after his death in 1862, Barend Cornelis Koekkoek's reputation as "The Prince of the Landscape painters" has endured to the present day.
Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (Dutch, 1803-1862)

A River Landscape in Holland at Sunset

Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (Dutch, 1803-1862)
A River Landscape in Holland at Sunset
signed and dated 'B.C. Koekkoek fec 1852' (lower left); and inscribed 'Dit Schilderijtje, voorstellende: een Hollandsch Rivier-gezicht, Boom/rijke ackers, met een Kasteel en/verschillende vaartuigen, bij Na/middagzon, is geschilderd in het/jaar1852 door den ondergetekende/B.C. Koekkoek/Cleve 14 December 1852.' (on a label attached to the reverse with the artist's seal) and inscribed again 'A summer landscape of Holland,/with a castle on a river in the lightness/of sun set, painted from B.C.Koekkoek./1852. (on a label attached to the reverse with the artist's seal).
oil on panel
24 x 29 in. (61 x 73.5 cm.)
Dr. K.A. Evans, Stonefield, Rochedale.
with MacConnal-Mason & Son, London.
Private Collection, Channel Islands.
Private Collection.
with MacConnal-Mason & Son, London, 1997.

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Lot Essay

Koekkoek's meticulously painted landscapes with church spires in the distance, majestic oak trees, and dramatic cloud-filled skies, occupy a prominent place in his oeuvre and reveal a dependence on the work of the 17th Century Dutch master Jacob Ruisdael. Other 17th Century masters also influenced Koekkoek; for example, the coloured accents on the clothing of the riders, ferrymen, girls and herdsmen who people his landscapes hark back to Nicolaes Berchem.

The present lot dates to the early 1850s when the artist's romanticism reached its peak: his compositions became more articulate, complex and chromatically powerful compared ot his earlier work. The dominating architecture of the castle on the riverbank provides a visual counterweight to the heavy vegetation on the left, framing the river and leading the eye from the group of figures in the foreground into the depth of the composition. The artist controls the balance of the composition meticulously, every element carefully placed, creating a linear harmony of feigned simplicity.

Koekkoek's work from the 1850s often carries a label and his seal on the reverse, an acknowledgement of authenticity forced upon the artist by his great fame. The present lot carries not only a label in Dutch but also in English, indicating that it was meant for the foreign market and reflecting the artist's international acclaim and appeal.

The present lot was recorded in 1962 in the archive of Friedrich Gorissen under no. 52/59. The authenticity of the present lot has kindly been confirmed by Drs Guido de Werd, director of Museum Haus Koekkoek, Cleves, on the basis of a photograph.

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