Majestic trees beneath a tall, open sky, the play of light and shadow on the forest floor, earthy browns and greens – the paintings in this room could easily pass as genuine Koekkoeks!
But they are actually by two of his most faithful students: Anna van Sandick and Johann Bernhard Klombeck. Unlike many of Koekkoek’s other pupils, who stayed here mainly over the summer, both Klombeck and van Sandick lived in Cleves all year round. Klombeck was born here and spent his whole life in the city; van Sandick moved here as a young adult.
Nevertheless, it’s unlikely they met very often. In her memoirs, Anna van Sandick notes that, as a woman, she was not permitted to take part in the meetings of the drawing society. Instead, Koekkoek came to her home and taught her there. Anna van Sandick lived in an all-female household. She had refused to marry any of her suitors and instead set up home with her mother and sister. Anna became a member of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, she exhibited her works and was successful in selling them.
Johann Bernhard Klombeck, who painted the wooded landscape on the right, is regarded as Koekkoek’s master pupil. Even during his lifetime, he was highly respected by fellow artists and buyers. Born in Cleves in 1815, he joined the circle of friends around B.C. Koekkoek at an early age. His paintings are closely based on those of his teacher, both in choice of subject and painting technique. Like Koekkoek, Klombeck generally structures his paintings with a foreground, middle ground and background, which shift in relation to each other. Following Koekkoek’s illness and death, it was Klombeck who ensured that the process of passing on artistic knowledge was maintained in keeping with Koekkoek’s preferences. However, the development of painting continued, and the emergence of Realism and early Impressionism in the mid-19th century meant that the importance of the Cleves School dwindled.
Paintings by both Anna van Sandick and Klombeck have frequently – whether deliberately or not – been ascribed to their teacher and role model, which just shows how faithfully they adhered to his requirements.
Incidentally, you’ll find another painting by Johann Bernhard Klombeck in the next room.
We’ll continue in there in front of the large standard mirror.