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Hendrick Mesdag and his panorama

Hendrick Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) is a Dutch landscape painter who can be related to the Hague School. His paintings, often seascapes, evoke the light of Turner and the realism of the Barbizon school.

Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Marine. 1890. Brooklyn Museum
Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Marine. 1890. Brooklyn Museum

Son of a banker, Hendrick Mesdag abandoned finance at the age of thirty-five to devote himself entirely to painting, which he studied from 1866 in Brussels with Alma Tadema. He will exhibit at the Paris Salon where he will obtain a gold medal, from 1870.

Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Marine. 1895. Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg
Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Le Panorama et son belvédère. 1881. Musée Panorama Mesdag La Haye. Photo Bob Strik

In 1881, Hendrick Mesdag painted his famous "Panorama" on behalf of the 'Société Anonyme du Panorama Maritime de la Haye'. Since 1875, "Panoramas" were in fashion and represented 360 degrees of landscapes that visitors could look over from a central stage.

With the help of colleagues from the school of The Hague - Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, Bernard Blommers, George Breitner and Théophile de Bock - Hendrick Mesdag realizes this composition with a circumference of 120 meters and a height of 14 meters .

Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Le Panorama (détail) avec Sientje Van Houten. 1881. Musée Panorama Mesdag La Haye.
Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Le Panorama (détail) avec Sientje Van Houten. 1881. Musée Panorama Mesdag La Haye.

On this huge canvas, he will create or have created scenes in incredible detail, like the one representing his wife, Sientje Mesdag Van Houten, herself a painter, in front of her easel on the beach.

Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Coucher de soleil à Scheveningen. 1894. National Gallery of Art Washington DC
Hendrick Willem Mesdag. Coucher de soleil à Scheveningen. 1894. National Gallery of Art Washington DC

Hendrick Mesdag and his wife are also major collectors. Over the years, they acquired many paintings by Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, Camille Corot and Narcisse Diaz de la Peña. They will donate it to the State in 1903.


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