A line of ships, representing the British fleet, stretches into the distance, as a Danish ship close to the water’s edge explodes. British soldiers head ashore in rowing boats, while Danes are gathered on the fort above them, operating the line of cannon protruding from between the battlements. This work is remarkable for being finely painted, with an extraordinary degree of detail. Artist Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek has included every rope of the rigging on each of the ships. The title of the painting indicates that it illustrates the Battle of Copenhagen of 1807, when the city was encircled by British forces and bombarded from 2nd to 5th September.
Johannes Hermanus Koekkoek, marine painter, was born in Veere, in the Netherlands. He was a self taught artist and first worked in a wallpaper factory in the city of Middleburg, exhibiting work in Haarlem in 1825. From 1826 to 1833 he lived in Durgerdam, near Amsterdam, exhibiting in Amsterdam and The Hague. In 1833, he moved to Amsterdam and became a member of the Royal Academy. Koekkoek was the first of a dynasty of painters: his sons Hermanus and Johannes became marine painters, two other sons, Barend and Martinus Adrianus, were landscape painters, and two grandsons, J. H. B. Koekkoek and Hermanus Koekkoek Junior, were also marine painters. However, Johannes himself is considered the most skilled painter of the family.
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