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Sothebys Amsterdam to Sell Masterpiece by B.C. Koekkoek on April 14

AMSTERDAM – The absolute highlight of the 19th Century Paintings sale at Sotheby’s Amsterdam on Monday 14 April 2008 is a panoramic landscape in Luxemburg by Barend Cornelis Koekkoek. The oil on canvas that was recently discovered in a private collection is probably one of the missing paintings from the series that the artist painted at the request of King Willem II of the Netherlands in Luxemburg in the late 1840s. This honourable commission shows the importance of B.C. Koekkoek already in his own time. B.C. Koekkoek (1803-1862) was without doubt the most important Dutch romantic painter from the first half of the 19th century and the most famous member of the artistic family Koekkoek. He was born in Middelburg in 1803 and died in Kleef, near the German border, in 1862. His unparalleled mastery earned him the name of honour ‘Prince among Landscape painters’ in his own time. Already at an early stage he concentrated on the art of painting landscapes and created forest- and winter landscapes in the style of 17th century masters. In 1834 B.C. Koekkoek had moved to the German town Kleef where the surrounding Rhine landscape and the luscious forests fitted his ideal of a landscape. Koekkoek’s landscapes, varying from wide river valleys and woody views dominated by one or two giants oaks were very much in demand. The landscape in Luxemburg now on offer is a great example of his unequalled virtuosity. The estimate is €600.000-1.100.000.

Isaac Israels (1865-1934) was the one of the leading figures of Dutch Impressionism and the one who came closest to the French variety. Predominantly a painter of persons, Israels observed people in the streets, fashion houses, café’s, dance halls and the theatre. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the shows in the Scala theatre in The Hague were an important source of inspiration for Isaac Israels. Dolf Welling writes in his book on the artist (published 1991): ‘In The Hague of the 1920s, a small gentleman with a grey moustache and a pointed beard could frequently be seen entering the Scala Vaudeville theatre with some canvasses under his arm. Isaac Israels was a familiar figure over there. At times he sketched immediately onto the canvas, either in the spacious fitting rooms or sitting in the wings’.

Israels could often be found in the dressing rooms, the foyer and back stage, where he portrayed famous artists such as Josephine Baker and Buziau, as well as the revue girls of the Bouwmeesterrevue.

The present painting depicts a colourful stage scene in the Scala theatre, executed in freely applied, vigorous strokes and fresh, radiant colours. It most probably portrays the Dutch chanteuse Fien de la Mar in the famous Bouwmeester-revue. The painting is estimated €120.000-180.000.

An interesting View of the Castle of Wijk bij Duurstede by the 19th century master Cornelis Springer (Dutch, 1817-1891) was sold by the artist in 1857 for 300 Dutch Guilders. It is now estimated €120.000-180.000. The history of the Castle Duurstede started in 1270, when Zweder van Abcoude built a defendable tower on the location of the former city of Dorestad. He called this tower ‘Duurstede’. The reinforced walls were over 2.5 metres thick. The entrance on the second floor could only be reached by wooden stairs that were easily removable in times of distress. The 13th century donjon still exists today and is depicted on the right side of Springer’s painting. In the 15th century, bishop David of Burgundy had the castle rebuilt and added the tower of 40 metres high (central in the painting). When in 1672 the French army destroyed the city of Wijk bij Duurstede – leaving the castle undisturbed – the inhabitants of the city demolished the castle by taking the stones to rebuild their own houses. In 1852 the city of Wijk bij Duurstede became owner of the castle and laid out a beautiful park around it. Springer’s painting, executed only five years later – in 1857 – seems to commemorate this fact.

Springer depicts people relaxing in the park on a sunny day, some strolling, others boating, all taking their ease. On the left foreground we see some fishing men, watched by an elegant couple. The subject of the painting is unique in the oeuvre of the artist, who became famous for his town views. In the beautiful, detailed depiction of the castle and the figures, as well as the sunny atmosphere and vivid colouring, this painting is a wonderful example of Springer’s unsurpassed painterly skills.

Johan Barthold Jongkind (Dutch, 1819-1891) is represented with Les patineurs en Hollande from 1863 (€80.000- 120.000). Jongkind is generally considered to be an important precursor of Impressionism. During the main part of his career he lived and worked in Paris. He had an important influence on Monet (who declared that Jongkind was responsible for the development of his eye), Pissarro and Manet (who named Jongkind the ‘father of modern landscape painting´). Schooled in the tradition of Dutch landscape painting, Jongkind went to Paris in 1846 to study with Eugène Isabey. In a surprisingly short period he developed new ways to render his impressions, with colourful details and a bright palette, thus opening to way to Impressionism. Between 1855 and 1860 Jongkind worked in the Netherlands. When he returned to Paris, his typical Dutch landscapes were received very favourably.

To meet the demand Jongkind had to paint more Dutch landscapes in his studio in Paris. The ice scene from 1863, now on offer, was clearly painted in Paris. In October 2006 Sotheby’s Amsterdam sold another ice scène by Jongkind, Les patineurs à Overschie for €594.400, an auction record for the artist.

The works offered in this sale are wonderful examples of the Dutch Romantic School and Impressionism. The summer landscapes, beach scenes, town views and ice scenes, consigned from European private collections, can be considered as masterpieces of 19th Century Dutch painting. Sale: Monday 14 April 2008 at 2pm and 7pm. On view: Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 April, daily from 10am to 5pm.