Shortly after Koekkoek died in 1862, his widow sold the house and moved to Düsseldorf to live with her daughter.
The mansion passed through several pairs of hands until it was bought by a doctor called Hans van Ackeren in 1902. He added an extension and set up his medical practice in the new rooms. Some of the features added at that time have survived – like the indoor fountain in shades of petrol blue made of Karlsruhe Majolica. You’ll find it in the room on the right. Unlike the older parts of the house, which are in the neoclassical style throughout, this area shows the arrival of Art Nouveau.
This room was the doctor’s treatment room, and the fish spouting water, surrounded by waterlilies and reeds, was not just pretty to look at. It also indicated a shift in ideas about hygiene.
The moment patients entered the building via the stairwell, the handrail set the mood for their visit to the doctor.
Take a look at your screen: there was a spiral staircase leading up to the doctor’s practice, and Van Ackeren had a wrought iron handrail installed. It shows the battle of the Asclepius serpent against disease, represented by a dragon.
Before you leave the house after your tour (you’ll be on the lower ground floor at that point), walk straight on for a few steps. The stairwell with the ingenious handrail is open to visitors.
After the Second World War, the local authority moved into the mansion, which had survived the bombing raids. It has served as a museum since 1960. 1997 marked the founding of the B.C. Koekkoek House Trust. It’s in partnership with the North Rhine Westphalia Trust, as the new owner of the house. Other partners are the city of Cleves, and the Friends Society of the Museum Kurhaus and Koekkoek House, which is a registered association in Cleves. The two latter contributed their art collections. The B.C. Koekkoek-House Trust has maintained the museum ever since.
But let’s go back to the 1840s and find out about some of B.C. Koekkoek’s fellow artists and students. Please retrace your steps into the Music Room and then enter the first room on the left-hand side. It’s room number 5.
Erstes Foto: Arztpraxis, © B.C. Koekkoek-Haus
Zweites Foto: Aeskulap, © Claudia Klein