Willem Koekkoek was born in Amsterdam on 13th January 1839, the son of the marine artist Hermanus Koekkoek Sr. (1815-82),
Willem was the grandson of Jan Hermanus Koekkoek (1778-1851) and nephew to Barend Cornelis (1803-1862) and Marinus Adrianus (1807-1868) while Johannes Barend Cornelis (1840-1912) was a first cousin.
Willem studied under his father Hermanus, a marine painter though adopting town scenes as his favoured subject matter, a field of painting distinct from those of the remaining members of the extended family.Willem was the only member of the family to specialise in Dutch cityscapes, with Cornelis Springer as his great example. His paintings combine historical reconstruction and fantasy. His work was very popular outside the Netherlands as it conformed tot he idealistic image peaple had of the old Dutch towns.
Living in Amsterdam in his youth, Willem like so many of his contemporaries travelled widely in search of commissions and subject matter, in 1878 he was living in The Hague and subsequently Utrecht before returning to Amsterdam in 1880. In 1885 he moved to Nieuwer Amstel and in 1888 visited London, returning to Nieuwer Amstel where he died on 20th January 1895.
Willem exhibited widely, in Leeuwarden in 1859 and subsequently in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam 1865-94 almost exclusively town scenes of the Netherlands. His works can be found in museums, among others; London, National Gallery; Amsterdam, Historisch Museum and Montreal, Museum of Fine Arts.