WILLEM KOEKKOEK (Amsterdam 1839 – Nieuwer-Amstel [Amstelveen] 1895)
A View of Haarlem and A View of Leiden: A Pair of Paintings
both signed with the first two initials in monogram W. Koekkoek in the lower right
on the reverse of Haarlem: handwritten label from the artist—View of Haarlem, Holland, Willem Koekkoek; numbered 69 and dated 1891 on the panel
on the reverse of Leiden: handwritten label from the artist—View of Leyden, Holland, Willem Koekkoek; numbered 70 and dated 1891 on the panel
both oil on panel
17 ¼ x 13 inches (44 x 33 cm.)
M. Newman, Ltd., London
R.C. Brooks, Esq.
R.C. Brooks, Esq. sale, Sotheby’s, London, November 14, 1973, lots 187, 188, illustrated, where bought by
MacConnal-Mason & Son Ltd., London from whom acquired by
Private Collection, Virginia, until the present time
It is a bright summer day in the cities of Haarlem and Leiden. The population is out and enjoying the sunshine, conversing in small groups and attending to daily chores. Both views are situated on small streets alongside canals. Marvelous old houses dominate the scenes. In blue skies fluffy clouds painted with thick impasto float overhead. The vivid greenery from a few trees punctuate the settings. Other colorful accents of intense reds and blues are provided by the clothing of some of the townsfolk. The panels’ charms are undeniable. Yet truly breathtaking and the foundation of Willem Koekkoek’s lasting fame lies with his architectural renderings. Notable in this pair are the intricacy of the brickwork, patterning of the roof tiles, reflections in the multi-paned windows, and the weaving of the wood in the octagonal tower room. Cumulatively we are left dazzled.
Willem Koekkoek was a member of the Dutch dynasty of landscape painters. He was the son and pupil of Hermanus Koekkoek. He was also the teacher of his sons Hermanus Willem and Marinus Adrianus. G. Hermine Marius, in her 1909 landmark book Dutch Painters of the 19th Century, wrote of Willem “He was the most distinguished townscapist of the family.” 
Although Koekkoek painted landscapes, still lifes as well as marine subjects; his true brilliance shines forth in his cityscapes and village scenes. This undoubtedly stems from his early training as also an architect.  Christopher Brown in the National Gallery entry on their Koekkoek, noted that the artist drew further inspiration from the preeminent painter of cityscapes of the Dutch Golden Age, Jan van der Heyden, who was renowned for his exceptionally detailed handling of architecture. 
Koekkoek first exhibited in 1859 in Leeuwarden. From 1869 – 1894 he continuously took part in the contemporary art exhibitions held in Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. In 1878 he resided in The Hague and Utrecht. By 1880 Amsterdam was once more his home, until his final move in 1885 to Nieuwer-Amstel (Amstelveen). Always in search of new sights to capture his imagination, he traveled extensively throughout his beloved Holland. In 1888 he visited London, where his works were widely collected.  Fully in tune with the spirit of Dutch Romanticism, what Koekkoek painted was not so much a recreation of a particular place, but instead the essence of the country’s heart and soul through its buildings and inhabitants. Yet when he did paint actual views, favorite subjects included the cities of Amsterdam, Breda, Enkhuizen, Hoorn, Oudewater, Rotterdam, Woudrichem, and as on display here—Haarlem and Leiden. 
Koekkoek’s works formed part of the permanent collections of the museums in Amsterdam; London; The Hague; Montreal; Philadelphia; and Southport, United Kingdom.
 Geraldine Norman, ed., Marius, Dutch Painters of the 19th Century, Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, 1988, p. 293.
 Janet Whitmore, “Willem Koekkoek” at Rehs Galleries, Inc. at rehs.com; and “Willem Koekkoek” at rkd.nl (RKD Explore) website.
 Christopher Brown, “Willem Koekkoek, 1839—1895” in National Gallery Catalogues, The Dutch School 1600 – 1900, The National Gallery, London, volume 1, p. 218.
 Pieter A. Scheen, “Willem Koekkoek” in Lexicon Nederlandse Beeldende Kunstenaars 1750 – 1880, Uitgeverij; Pieter A. Scheen CV, ‘s-Gravenhage”, 1981, p. 278; and “Willem Koekkoek” at rkd.nl, op.cit..
 Peter C. Sutton, “Willem Koekkoek” in Northern European Paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the Sixteenth Through the Nineteenth Century, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1990, p. 155.