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    Description

    Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (Dutch, 1803-1862)
    Winter landscape with wood gatherers and skaters, 1854
    Oil on canvas
    20 x 26-1/4 inches (50.8 x 66.7 cm)
    Signed and dated lower right: BCKoekkoek. [ft] / 1854
    Authenticated, inscribed, and dated in French on remnants of a label (affixed to the stretcher), and with the artist's seal

    PROPERTY FROM A NORTH CAROLINA FAMILY COLLECTION

    Regarded as the founding father of Dutch romantic landscape painting and the most celebrated landscapist of his time, Barend Cornelis Koekkoek came to be known during his lifetime as the "Prince of Landscape Painting," receiving endless awards and honors over the course of his career. The artist counted among his many illustrious patrons King Friedrich-Wilhelm IV of Prussia, Tsar Alexander II, and King Willem II of the Netherlands.

    Koekkoek hailed from an artistically talented Dutch dynasty-his father, Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851) was a renowned marine painter, from whom Barend received his earliest tutelage. 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. Of all the Koekkoeks, Barend Cornelis would become the best known and the most acclaimed.

    Like other notable Romantics, such as the legendary Caspar David Friedrich, Koekkoek favored the subject of diminutive figures depicted within imposing, majestic natural landscapes. This motif was a popular source of inspiration among Romantic artists, emphasizing a humbling contrast between the inconsequential stature of mankind, and the grandeur and vastness of creation.

    In 1834, Koekkoek relocated from his native Holland to Germany, where he found his ideal subject matter in the region of the Ahr, Ruhr and Rhine. The flat Dutch countryside had not satisfied the artist's romantic yearnings, and Koekkoek wrote in 1841 "Our fatherland boasts no rocks, waterfalls, high mountains or romantic valleys. Proud, sublime nature is not to be found in our land." Upon moving to Germany, the young artist's paintings became filled with towering trees, winding paths, and panoramic vistas. In Cleves, where he would remain throughout his life and establish an esteemed school for landscape painting, Koekkoek painted his most important works, ranging from extensive river valleys to idyllic forest views dominated by sensationally dramatized trees, symbolizing a marvelous and unbound nature.

    Painted in 1854 at the height of the artist's career, the present work is an iconic and masterful example of Koekkoek's romantic sensibilities. Set in the fiery golden glow of a dwindling sun, this work combines all the elements for which the artist was best known: dazzlingly detailed figures in various states of daily activity, an evocative atmospheric mood, and an emphasis on the sublimity and majesty of nature. This work reveals a careful study and synthesis of Dutch seventeenth-century painters, and firmly roots the artist within the great tradition established by masters such as Hobbema, Cuyp, Ruisdael and Wynants. The golden light and the inclusion of travelers in his work suggests Koekkoek also admired the Dutch Italianate painters of the seventeenth century, including Pieter van Laer and Jan Both.

    Koekkoek envisioned his landscapes as the result of a carefully balanced combination of observation and artifice. He studied both art and nature with equal astuteness, creating magnificent works that glorify the greatness of creation. As stated by nineteenth-century Dutch painting critic G.H. Marius, "Koekkoek's work impresses the spectator by its power, by the firm and correct construction of the trees, by the broad, natural growth of the leaves and boughs, [and] by the careful and elaborate reproduction of the wooded landscape' (G. H. Marius, Dutch Painters of the Nineteenth Century, Woodbridge, 1973, p. 89). Indeed, the present work embodies all the elements of his lively compositions and nostalgic view of the world, which the Dutch Golden Age painters so heavily favored. Today, just as during his own lifetime, Koekkoek is widely regarded as the most skillful landscape painter of Dutch Romanticism, against whose scrupulously refined paintings the works of his contemporaries continue to be measured.

    We would like to thank Drs. Guido de Werd, former director of the B.C. Koekkoek-Haus, Cleves, and Dr. Jan de Meere, senior fine art consultant, Boutserem, and former professor at the Free University, Amsterdam, and the KU Leuven, Louvain, for kindly confirming the authenticity of this lot.





    Condition Report*: We would like to thank Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc., New York for providing the following condition report on this work:   This painting has not been recently cleaned, but a few retouches have been added around the signature and date. They interfere with the last two letters of the name Koekkoek and also with what seems to have been "Ft" meaning "Fecit" which has been turned into "JR" by a previous restorer. The date seems to be correct. The only other retouches visible under ultraviolet light examination are in the upper right. One small loss above the large tree and the other is a smaller disturbance. The picture is noticeably dirty. If it is cleaned it is possible that other retouches may become apparent. Sometimes the glazes like those in the shadowed side of the house, for example, suffer, but in this case these areas are in good condition. The canvas has an old lining which is mostly effective, except in the lower right where some cracking is raised and may need to be corrected. Cleaning the work will certainly brighten the palette and remove a noticeably yellow layer of old varnish on the surface. Despite the few retouches, the condition is generally extremely good. - Simon Parkes. Framed Dimensions 27.75 X 33.75 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2016
    24th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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