Alexander Hugo Bakker Korffartist • painter • watercolourist • draughtsmanDen Haag 1824-1882 Leiden
biography of Alexander Hugo Bakker Korff
Portrait of Alexander Hugo Bakker Korff
Alexander Hugo Bakker Korff was born in The Hague in 1824 and attended classes at the Academy of The Hague and Antwerp from 1844, before settling in Leiden in 1856. Initially he painted biblical and mythological scenes in a romantic classicist style, but in 1859 he switched to a different genre. He leaves the historical genre, breaks with academic conventions and is skilled in depicting intimate scenes in the atmosphere of Hildebrands Camera Obscura. In an extremely precise style he paints small, homely scenes in which the subject is 'human comedy'. His posh, unmarried sisters, with whom he lived, were model for this. The ladies were usually dressed in 18th century clothing, of which Bakker Korff had a whole collection in his studio. Surrounded by all kinds of bric-à-brac in an overcrowded interior, he presented their lives and established habits. Always with humor and light irony, which he captured in witty titles such as 'The aunts go on a journey', 'A cup of stock and a glass of port' or 'La politique au déjeuner'. Not only because of the technically refined style, but also because of the irony, the painter's work quickly became very popular and many 'Bakker Korffje' found their way to art-buying audiences at home and abroad.
Bakker Korff must have had great admiration for the 17th-century fine painters Gerard Dou and Gabriël Metsu, who worked in his hometown of Leiden. Like his predecessors, Bakker Korff paid much attention to the expression of the material in his paintings; he perfectly reproduced silk and velvet, glass, copper and porcelain clothing. His paintings, usually no larger than an A4 sheet, are colorful and balanced in their composition. The fact that he worked in such a small format was sometimes associated with myopia, but it certainly corresponded to the taste of the audience. Incidentally, Bakker Korff also sometimes worked on photos, but this was not something he went for sale with. It was these kinds of paintings that made a contemporary in the 'Kunstkronijk' remark: 'The image is so taken from life that we are tempted to dream a story about it.'
Bakker Korff was a member of The Hague Pulchri Studio and was awarded the Order of Leopold after a very successful exhibition in Brussels in 1870. He taught, among others, J.H. van Rossum du Chattel and J. Zuidema Broos. The painter died in 1882. In the necrology of Bakker Korff in De Nederlandsche Spectator, literary scholar Carel Vosmaer writes: 'He never declined to the lowly comedic, caricature and sharp mockery did not proceed. The banter always remains with him of good houses, and mildly with heart. '