A glance at the rear façade of Barend Cornelis Koekkoek’s mansion makes it clear that he wanted to create a villa in the Italian style. The regular layout of the façade with the emphasis on the axes, the round arches over the hallway windows, and the square rooftop structure – if we didn’t know this is the Lower Rhine region, we might think we were in Italy. The terrace in the shape of an amphitheatre with its stairs is also based on Italian models. But in Koekkoek’s day, the garden that opens out beyond was probably landscaped in the English style:
“Do you have a garden with trees and plants? Then try to do your studies there … they will teach you the truth, after all.”
B.C. Koekkoek’s advice to fellow painters as early as 1841. Just a few years later, he was able to fulfil his wish: he purchased a piece of land outside the medieval city walls. Parts of the walls can still be seen near the extension, which was built later, in 1910.
Koekkoek’s garden was originally much larger than this is now. In the upper part, there was a large orchard and vegetable garden; the lower part, where you’re now standing, was for rest and recreation. After being divided up several times, Koekkoek’s garden has shrunk to a fraction of what it once was. And as a result, the studio tower, which once stood in the middle of the garden, now marks its edge.