Johannes Hermanus Barend, or 'Jan H.B. Koekkoek', was an interesting development as a painter. In 1859 he made his debut at the Exhibition of Living Masters in Amsterdam with a seascape entitled 'Whirling water with ships'. In it, he used the detailed elaboration that had become characteristic of the Koekkoek family and fine brushstroke. In 1864, at the age of 24, the painter exchanged his hometown Amsterdam for Hilversum, where not long before his uncles B.C. and M.A. had worked. Possibly under the influence of the impressionism of the Larense School that emerged in the Gooi region, his painting style gradually changes there. The fine, precise effect and barely distinguishable brush stroke make way for a faster, looser painting style. His choice of subject matter also changed and expanded in the eighties and nineties with fisherman scenes, beach scenes with bombs, shell fishermen and some polder landscapes. Subjects that were favorite with the painters of the Hague School. Jan H.B. in this Hilversum period, often on the back of a sealed authenticity statement with subject and date. Popular with the painter were the fishing towns around the Zuiderzee, along the North Sea coast - Egmond, Zandvoort, Scheveningen and Katwijk -, the Maas near Rotterdam and Veere in Zeeland. In addition to his 'modern' subjects, Jan H.B. also romantic shipwrecks, in which subject and style merge, as it were.
While the first and second generation painters of the Koekkoek family could still work in a relatively calm cultural climate, later generations were faced with a turbulent 'style struggle'. Due to the emergence from France of new art movements such as realism and impressionism, artists from the mid-19th century were forced to take a closer look at their working methods. Some chose to stick to their established style and theme, others took advantage of the turbulent bars of modern art movements, and allowed influences in their work. The remarkable change in style that occurred in the oeuvre of Jan H.B. visible is a reflection of the development that 19th-century painting also underwent in the Netherlands. He started as a romantic painter of seascapes, entirely in line with his father Hermanus sr, but eventually ended up with an impressionistic representation of the landscape: beach and seascapes, fishermen's scenes, river and polder views and scenes from farm life. His move in 1864 to Hilversum, in the center of the Gooi, home of the Laren School, is probably the main cause of his style change. The impressionistic sphere of influence he underwent here soon became visible in his work, which thematically fitted more closely with the Hague School.