KOEKKOEK, Barend Cornelis
(b. 1803, Middelburg, d. 1862, Cleve)


Dutch painter, one of the most important landscape painters of his generation. He received his first lessons from his father, Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851), and also studied at the Tekenacademie in Middelburg. Subsequently he became a pupil at the Amsterdam Rijksakademie under Jean Augustin Daiwaille (1786-1850). He first participated in an exhibition in 1820. 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 (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum). The painting is notable for its accurate and sober study of nature; it marked Koekkoek's commitment to a style of landscape divorced both from the predominantly topographical approach of the 18th century and from the flat and decorative manner of contemporary mural painting.

Koekkoek married the artist Elize Therese Daiwaille and moved to Cleve with her in 1834. The Rhine landscape and the forests of Cleve had been held dear by artists since the 17th century and Koekkoek was also inspired by them. They matched his image of the perfect landscape and it was in Cleve that Koekkoek's style reached maturity. He painted many landscapes here ranging from extensive river valleys to forest views dominated by one or more oak trees and these works earned him great fame. The artist had many wealthy patrons from the rich merchant classes in Holland and in 1839 King Willem III bought A View of a Forest with Cattle, a large painting that was rewarded with a gold medal at the Hague Salon held that same year. The Russian Tsar Alexander II was so impressed by this work that he commissioned an identical one from the artist, which illustrated how quickly Koekkoek gained an international reputation. King Willem III commissioned a series of landscapes by Koekkoek which further enhanced the artist's reputation.

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