No artist of Koekkoek’s generation would have considered any of the items on display in this room even worth showing.
For the painters of the day, sketchbooks, and studies in water colours or oils, were simply materials for their work. But we still find them fascinating today, because they give an insight into the creative process. The idea for the artwork is present in the drawing. Large numbers of sketches and studies represent the necessary precursors to the finished painting for every artist.
B.C. Koekkoek tended to focus on landscapes, tree studies, and figural studies of ordinary people – that’s obvious. You only have to look at the works on display to realise that he was a brilliant draughtsman. The extremely fine lines that make his paintings so fascinating, are already present in his preparatory drawings.
But Koekkoek didn’t just capture possible subjects for himself and his own work. He also produced several portfolios of lithographs as examples or teaching materials for other artists. This was a scheme he’d worked on with his father-in-law and teacher Jean Augustin Daiwaille since his time in Amsterdam.
Lithography – printing from a stone – had been developed just a few decades earlier by Alois Senefelder. The process enabled prints to be made, reproduced and sold with relatively little effort. As a result, Koekkoek’s lithographs had a considerable influence on late 19th century landscape painting.
Delicately executed pen-and-ink drawings with brown and grey washes were intended for collectors: while less expensive than an oil painting, they were nevertheless regarded as originals and were very popular.
Now, if you retrace your steps into the hallway, you’ll be able to view a few more works from the Cleves Romantic School.