Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862) has successfully created an accurate and atmospheric portrayal of a wooded valley which is enlivened by a setting sun. It was painted in 1851 when Koekkoek had already received the highest possible distinction: two Gold Medals at the Paris Salon on different occasions. The first was awarded to him for a landscape painted for the Prince of Orange, later King Willem II, in 1840. He received his second Gold Medal in 1843, confirming his status as the leading Romantic landscape painter of his time.
Barend Cornelis Koekkoek was born on the 11th of October 1803 in Middelburg as eldest son to the Marine painter Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851) (see lot 133 and 216). At the early age of thirteen Koekkoek studied at the local academy and frequented evening classes by Abraham Kraystein (1793-1855). Having been awarded a scholarship by the Dutch Government, Koekkoek attended the academy in Amsterdam where he was taught by Jean Augustin Daiwaille (1786-1850) whom he befriended and was to work with for the rest of his career. On the 14th of August 1833 he married Daiwaille's daughter Elise Therese (1814-1881).
In 1841 Koekkoek founded a Drawing Academy, the Zeigen Collegium in Cleves, where he tutored many young artists such as his brother Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek (1807-1870), his brother-in-law Alexander Joseph Daiwaille (1818-1888), Johann Bernard Klombeck (1815-1893), Louwrens Hanedoes (1822-1905), Johannes Tavenraat (1809-1881), Lodewijk Johannes Kleijn (Dutch, 1817-1897) and Frederik Marinus Kruseman (1816-1882).
With nature as his most important inspiration, Koekkoek carefully selected and combined various elements to create a new whole. In addition to the beautiful landscape, Koekkoek added figures and animals in the immediate foreground, a large ruin on the left in the distance. These additions play an important role as they create a spatial order through which the eye is allowed to wander. As the eye is guided through the spatial order, starting with the figures standing in the foreground, its is led through the sunlit centre layer of the work to the hazy and darkened background starting with the ruin and ending in the clouds hanging over the hilltops.
The authenticity has kindly been confirmed by Drs G. de Werd, director of Museum Haus Koekkoek, Cleves.