Johannes Christiaan Karel Klinkenberg was born in The Hague on January 14, 1852 and died there on April 23, 1924. He attended the Academy of The Hague, where he was a pupil of marine painter Louis Meijer (1809-1866). Later he was under the tutelage of portrait and genre painter Christoffel Bisschop (1828-1904), who encouraged Klinkenberg to concentrate on the depiction of sunlight, which became a defining feature of his paintings.
Initially Klinkenberg painted landscapes and historical subjects, but from 1880 onwards he concentrated almost entirely on town views. The painting of town scenes was a peculiarly, and particularly popular, Dutch genre. Artists, led by Cornelis Springer (1817-1891), Willem Koekkoek (1839-1895), Kaspar Karsen (1810-1896) and Adrianus Eversen (1818-1897), were highly successful, both at home and in Europe as a whole, and Klinkenberg was to become a leading artist in this genre, albeit painting in a uniquely distinctive style. Coming to this genre later in the century, Klinkenberg was perhaps more open to the prevailing attitudes amongst his French contemporaries, such as the Impressionists and their use of light. Klinkenberg’s town scenes are broadly drawn with extensive use of impasto and suffused with a cool northern sunlight. He became renowned for his genius in depicting the effect of sunlight and shadow on the facades of buildings, and tended to paint cities with harbours and canals, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.
Most of his paintings, etchings and watercolours are topographically very precise, making his works today not only brilliant masterpieces, but important historical documents as well.
An artist highly regarded by his contemporaries, Klinkenberg exhibited not only in Amsterdam and The Hague from 1870 to 1903, but also in Germany, France, Belgium and in Great Britain.
Klinkenberg’s work was also shown in many international exhibitions, in Berlin, Brussels, Munich, Dresden, Paris, Stuttgart and Vienna. He won many prizes during his life; a gold medal at ‘Arti et Amicitiae’ in Amsterdam in 1875, and medals in Munich in 1888, and in Paris at the Universal Expositions in 1889 and 1900 and in 1910 in Brussels. In 1909 he was named officer in the order of Orange-Nassau.
Today his work is represented in the museum in the Hague; the Rijksmueum in Amsterdam; Städelsches Kunst Institute, Frankfurt, the Museum in Leiden, and in Alkmaar; Dordrecht; Enschede; Haarlem; Nijmegen; Rotterdam and Utrecht.