Cornelis Springer (1817-1891) mainly painted city and village views in which facades and lively fabrics are bathed in warm sunlight. Together with Barend Cornelis Koekkoek and Andreas Schelfhout, he is one of the most important painters of Dutch Romanticism. In his paintings, a prominent place is often assigned to buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Sometimes this is a fantasy architecture, but in most cases these were existing buildings whose beauty was 'rediscovered' around 1850. After the Netherlands was liberated from French oppression in 1813, the country developed a need for identity and national pride. The Golden Age, a period of great economic prosperity and wealth, was taken as an example; Rembrandt was elevated to Holland's most famous painter, Michiel de Ruyter became a national hero. It is therefore not surprising that the eye of painters such as Cornelis Springer, who came from a family of architects, fell on the buildings dating from that heyday
Springer was trained as a house and decorative painter and was a pupil of Jacobus van der Stok, Hendrik Gerrit ten Cate and especially Kasparus Karsen, whose muted copper color scheme can be found in Springer's early work (ca. 1835-1845). Like the other cityscape painters, Karsen mainly made fantasy views, or capriccios sometimes with existing elements. From the mid-1950s Springer began to paint more and more topographically. He found his subjects in his hometown of Amsterdam, but also visited the towns around the Zuiderzee, for example, where the old buildings still flaunted in large numbers. It became a huge success. Customers were on the waiting list to buy his paintings and he sometimes sold his important works for thousands of guilders. By way of illustration: he sold one of Springer's most expensive works in the 1970s for four thousand guilders, while the annual income of wealthy painters such as Jacob Maris and Hendrik Mesdag in the same period was about six thousand.
A well-known way in which Springer worked is that he first made a large sketch on site, using charcoal on well-prepared paper. The buyer could then choose a representation from these drawings that would be executed in oil paint in the same format. A handy way of doing business, because in this way the painter had already sold his work before he had started it. He also had his administration in order. He kept cash books and documented which painting he sold to whom and for how much. He even kept track of how long he was working on his paintings and on which days he was working on a particular part.
Cornelis Springer was an influential man in Amsterdam's art scene. He was secretary, vice-chairman, chairman and even honorary member of the Amsterdam artists' society Arti et Amicitiae. As an artist, he managed to establish a reputation as a highly skilled painter. And he was an artist from whom, based on his drawings, you could choose a painting with the confidence that it would not disappoint you. Springer's charcoal drawings are a feast for the eyes. With his own certainty, a great architectural knowledge, every line was spot on and Springer managed to create the illusion of space and depth with so little that the layman cannot explain the miracle.' From: Johan Gram, 'Cornelis Springer', Elsevier's Geillustreerd Maandschrift, Jan.-July 1899, p. 203.