Barrend Cornelis Koekkoek


Barend Koekkoek was born October 11 1803 in Middelburg and was a Dutch painter of landscapes, landscapes with figures and a watercolourist.

He grew up in an artistic environment. His father Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778–1851) was a renowned marine painter, from whom he received his earliest tuition. His brothers Hermanus Koekkoek (1815–1882) and Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek (1807–1868) were both successful artists, the first as a painter of marine subjects and river scenes, the second as a landscapist. In 1817 he enrolled at the Drawing Academy of Middelburg, where he studied under Abraham Krayestein moving to Amsterdam in 1822, he studied for four years at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten, and by 1824, at 19 years of age, he voiced his ambition to become a painter of landscapes. He concentrated on extensive wooded landscapes in summer and winter, a theme deducted from the four season series. Like other Romantic painters such as Casper David Friedrich , Koekkoek painted the motif of tiny figures within imposing, majestic natural environments to contrast humble humanity with the greatness of creation. This was a popular subject matter in the Golden Age, the main source of inspiration for nineteenth century artists. In 1829, the Amsterdam society Felix Meritis awarded one of Koekkoek’s summer landscapes a gold medal.

The same year, by popular demand from young artists eager to receive his tuition, Koekkoek founded his own drawing academy (Zeichen, Collegium) and in his footsteps, many artists travelled to the former ducal residence seeking instruction from the great master at the academy. Closely adhering to their master’s principles expressed in his writings and in his paintings, these artists collectively gave rise to the school of landscape painting referred to as ‘Cleves Romanticism’, blending realism with a pervading idealized atmosphere.

Barend Cornelis Koekkoek came to be known during his lifetime as the “Prince of Landscape Painting” and was by far the most applauded landscapist of his time and regarded as the founding father of Dutch romantic landscape painting. The recipient of endless awards and decorations, he counted among his clients King Friedrich-Wilhelm IV of Prussia, Tsar Alexander II, and King Willem II of the Netherlands.

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