Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg (1852 1924)
Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg (1852-1924), A view of the Oudezijds Kolk with the Oude Kerk in the distance, Amsterdam, signed 'Klinkenberg.' (lower left), oil on canvas, 53x39,5 cm, Provenance:
-Collection Mr. Simon Maris.
-Collection De Vries-De Vries, Amsterdam.
-Collection Menko-Van Dam, Enschede, until 1962.
-Collection Cohen-Menko, until 2003. Please compare to a work with a similar composition in: Willem Laanstra, 'Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg (1852-1924)', Laren 2000, p. 171, ill. no. 0/52-2.
A brilliant piece of work: A view of the Oudezijds Kolk with the Oude Kerk in the distance, Amsterdam.
Karel Klinkenberg was born in The Hague in 1852 where, at the age of 14, having studied at the Hague’s Art Academy, he initially received lessons from Louis Meyer, the romantic marine artist. Within the year, Meyer left The Hague to live in Utrecht and Klinkenberg then came under the tutelage of Christoffel Bisschop. Through this painter, known for his paintings of interiors and historical pieces, Klinkenberg learnt how to work with contrasts of light and dark, and also how to use thick, impasto-like paint. In 1875, Klinkenberg sold his first major piece, ‘Het beleg van Leiden’ (The Siege of Leiden) at the Living Masters exhibition in Amsterdam. A year later, at the Living Masters exhibition in The Hague, his painting ‘De Korte Vijverberg’ was sold for 1,200 guilders.
Klinkenbergs’ name as a successful artist was now established. Klinkenberg’s fellow painters, the painters from his own generation, known as the Schilders van Tachtig (Painters from the Eighties), weren’t always positive in their assessments of his work. For the avant-garde of the time, Willem Kloos’s famous adage prevailed: ‘Art is Passion’. And Eduard Karsen interpreted this notion of l’art pour l’art in an even stronger way: ‘he who works for honour or money, is not an artist’. Well, Karel Klinkenberg had no shortage of customers who paid well; he received twice as much for his work as Witsen and Karsen, and just as much as Breitner. So therefore, in the eyes of most Eighties Painters and art critics, Klinkenberg may not have been artistic enough and was considered far too focussed on selling his paintings, but he has never failed to gain the appreciation of art collectors, both at home and abroad.
Klinkenberg lived and worked for most of his life in The Hague, but from November 1887 to April 1893 he lived in Amsterdam, the city with its historical city centre and reflective canals, which provided the inspiration for some of his best works.
According to the book, ‘Schilders van Tachtig’ (Painters from the Eighties), Klinkenberg is considered to be a representative of the Amsterdam School, even if it is ‘in a more conservative way’. This Amsterdam School, which A.M. Hammacher called ‘urban impressionism’, followed up on the ‘nature impressionism’ of the Hague School, where the landscape and the interior set the tone.
G.H. Marius, the writer of the book: ‘De Hollandsche Schilderkunst in de negentiende eeuw’ (Dutch Painting of the Nineteenth Century), published in 1903, compares Klinkenberg - ‘the deceptive portrayer of sunlight on houses’ - to Springer, with whom Klinkenberg ‘has topographic correctness in common, but then with less colour and the composition has not been thought through as well’. Marius goes on to write about Klinkenberg as: ‘the painter who you would expect to have chosen the magnificent Jan Weissenbruch, with his beautiful, talented facture, as his guide’.
Klinkenberg’s cityscapes can rival the best works of Cornelis Springer. In its concept and design, Klinkenberg’s work is very different to Springer’s. Springer’s cityscapes are more historical and regal, with finer brushwork and often structured with diagonal rows of house fronts. Klinkenburg is more akin to Weissenbruch’s cityscapes, which are characterised by the strong, horizontal and vertical lines of the house fronts and rooftops, often combined with clear light and strong shadowing. Klinkenberg particularly excels in portraying sunlight, often reflected on the canals. In contrast to Weissenbruch’s tranquil and well-balanced cityscapes, Klinkenberg’s cityscapes simply vibrate. With warmth and with freshness, his best works vibrate with life. The cityscape on offer is drawn from life in a rich, multi-faceted, well-balanced and yet still lively composition, through the brilliance of the sunlight and through just the right number of people in view.
G.H. Marius, ‘De Hollandsche schilderkunst in de XIXe eeuw’, The Hague 1903.
Richard Bionda and Carel Blotkamp (Editors), ‘De schilders van Tachtig, Nederlandse schilderkunst 1880-1895’, Zwolle 1994.
Willem Laanstra, ‘Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg, 1852-1924. De meester van het zonnige stadsgezicht’, Amsterdam 2000.