Johannes Hermanus was the first in the Koekkoek family to make painting his profession. He was born in Veere on the Zeeland island of Walcheren in 1778 and went to Middelburg around 1800 to be apprenticed to the wallpaper painter Thomas Gaal. In addition, he attended classes at the Middelburgsche Teeken-Academy in the evenings. During this time he also started painting: ships and sea, with which he followed the prevailing painting tradition in the water-rich Zeeland. His oeuvre includes cityscapes with water and historical scenes, but especially ships on troubled sea, 'choppy waters' as he called them, or anchored in calm. Scenes that he painted with the utmost precision and provided with a lively, narrative upholstery. Johannes Hermanus was famous for his faithful representation of all kinds of ship types. Contemporaries mentioned that he made ship-like models in detail for practice and study. The sea, which for the most part consisted of islands and water, was willing to lend itself to a wide variety of transports, was also an enemy, which could turn into a wild swirling body of water during unfavorable tides and storms. A shipping disaster was always lurking. Johannes Hermanus preferred to paint this dramatically, the ship with sails blown to pieces, slowly sinking into crashing waves and drowning men trying desperately to cling to wreckage. Johannes Hermanus became one of the most famous navy painters of his time and passed his talent on to four of his eight children.