Koekkoek, Hendrik Pieter (1843-c.1890)

Koekkoek, Hendrik Pieter (1843-c.1890)

Author: Andy Shield

Hendrik Pieter Koekkoek was a proficient landscape painter during the mid to late 19th century. Trained by his father, Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek (1807-1868), his early works were a homage to romanticism.

Impressive oaks guide the eye towards distant uplands as a local family rest under their boughs. A river cuts through a coppice with an ancient ruin conspicuous on a hillside. However, it seems that Koekkoek developed his own style following frequent trips to England from around 1865. At this time, a typical middle-class English buyer sought landscapes which represented rural life as they wished it. Examining their art collection helped them escape the growing industrialisation of towns and cities.

So it’s no surprise that Koekkoek adapted his style and began producing works that were more realistic than romanticised. He produced views of Windsor, Kent and Guildford. Popular areas for London dwellers to walk and picnic. This new adapted approach would’ve helped him to achieve sales through London galleries and he made an honest living.

But aside from his stylistic nuances, the greatest asset Koekkoek possessed was his passion for the natural world. Trees are particularly well rendered and carefully observed. Rivers are also a keen interest.

Today, Koekkoek’s works are held in numerous private and public collections including the Kirklees Museums and Galleries, Yorkshire.

Author: Polly Pyke

Dutch landscape painter Hendrik Pieter Koekkoek confidently created works which went against the trends of the day and built upon the rich artistic legacy of the Koekkoek painting dynasty.

Artistic ability ran thick through Koekkoek’s blood. His grandfather, Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek (1771-1851), had been the first of his line to establish himself as an artist. He was swiftly followed by his four sons, one of whom was Koekkoek’s father, Marinus Adrianus Koekkoek (1807-1868). The father would pass down to the son his artistic learnings, setting in motion another generation of artistic enterprise within the family.

The influence of Koekkoek’s father is evident in his early works. These blush and are flushed with the same romantic approach to nature. All is in harmony in these compositions. Skies hang in great swathes of silky white and blue and vibrant verdancy sweeps from the boughs of trees to lushly sprouting grass.

Interestingly, Koekkoek’s father was taught and heavily influenced by his brother, Barend Cornelis Koekkoek (1803-1862). Barend Cornelis has often been viewed as the herald of Dutch romantic landscape painting. He built upon the legacy of the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age of Painting, which celebrated Dutch landscapes and began to hone a canny realism. He layered upon this a romantic edge which furthers the celebration of landscape. Clearly, Koekkoek was heavily influenced both by his homeland’s rich artistic legacy and by his own family’s innovations and contributions.

However, he was sure to find his own path and expand his horizons. Later works by Koekkoek lose the romantic tinge and are striking in their bold, determined realism. Nature’s state is wilder and more spontaneous. Trees which once framed flat pathways bend and buckle in organic rhythms. Koekkoek experiments with compositions, not framing pathways enticingly lined with trees but depicting fields sweeping towards panoramic vistas, rocky pathways and cows grazing idly.

Koekkoek was building on the artistic legacy of his homeland and his ancestors but was clearly keen to experiment and find his own natural artistic rhythm. As well as capturing many scenes from the countryside of the Netherlands, Koekkoek also travelled and spent a great deal of time in Britain. He might also have travelled to the Rhine Valley in Germany, which his father visited often. Koekkoek was broadening his horizons.

Not only was Koekkoek fond of Britain, but its inhabitants were very fond of his art. The British market was the most successful for Koekkoek. Koekkoek had a cousin, Hermanus, who was an art dealer in London. Perhaps he was a useful business tool. Whatever the case, the merit of his work is in its distinctiveness, its confidence.

It is worth mentioning that Koekkoek was creating strong realist works at a time when the influence of impressionism was fever-pitch across Europe. His works, whilst resonating with the impressionist's strong passion for nature as the first guide of art, are stylistically opposed to these French innovators. He was holding onto his Dutch roots, yet the rich boughs of art which grew from these are infused with his own innovations.

Running through Koekkoek’s blood was the same verve for art which ran through his family. He continued the legacy of artistic enterprise and innovation, contributing his own distinctive style. Today, a number of his works are still held in museums across Britain.


Born Hilversum, Netherlands..


Worked predominantly in the style of his father.


Known to have worked in London, England.


Died in England.

Stay In Touch
Subscribe to our Wednesday newsletter for the latest finds and 10% off your order.