A pivotal figure in the evolution of Dutch 19th Century painting, Barend Cornelis Koekkoek achieved international fame as one of the most important landscape painters of his generation. Born in Middelbourg, he trained, just like his brothers, under his father, Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851) before joining the Amsterdam Rijksakademie to train with Jean Augustin Daiwaille (1786-1850). Between 1826 and 1834 he travelled constantly, visiting the Harz Mountains, the Rhine and the Ruhr. His first great success came in 1829 when he won the gold medal of the Amsterdam society Felix Meritis with Landscape with a Rainstorm Threatening now in the Rijksmuseum.
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 reveals a dependence on the work of 17th Century Dutch master Jacob Ruisdael. Other 17th Century masters also influenced Koekkoek, for example, the coloured accents on the clothing of the riders, girls and herdsmen who people his landscapes show the influence of Nicolaes Berchem.
The present work, dated 1852, was painted in Cleve, a small German town in which the artist occupied a prominent position. Not only did he found an academy, he began a Kunstverein, a local society to promote the appreciation of works of art in 1847. Koekkoek normally worked directly on his panels without using preliminary drawings and the present work displays his characteristic pristine and painstakingly sound brushwork. He would remain in Cleve until his death in 1862 and in 1960 his house became the Stadtisches Museum Haus Koekkoek.
Dr. Guido de Werd will include this work in his forthcoming B.C. Koekkoek catalogue raisonné under no. 52/54,5.