Visiting cards

Artists, friends and members of the Mesdag family are given a face in our museum’s collection. Not only in painted portraits, but above all in photographs too. Fully in keeping with the spirit of the time, the artistic couple had a collection of cartes de visite: portrait photographs mounted on beautiful cardboard. They were exchanged between friends during visits; hence the name (literally translated: visiting cards).

Lourens Alma Tadema

Laurens Alma Tadema, menukaart met portret Mesdag, coll. MPM

Lawrence Alma Tadema was unable to attend the seventieth birthday celebration of his second cousin Hendrik Willem Mesdag. But with this portrait which he made of Mesdag for the menus, he was nonetheless represented at the birthday dinner; there was a menu on the plates of all 225 guests. Mesdag was idolized by the art world in The Hague, in part because he promoted the painters from the Hague School so successfully. Of course there were dissenting opinions; there were those who were bothered by his dominant role.

Jozef Israëls

Portretfoto Jozef Israels MPM (via GvNL)

Jozef Israëls (1824-1911) was Hendrik Willem Mesdag’s best friend and also a prominent artist of the Hague School. He was one of the first Dutch artists who no longer painted smoothly or made romantic work, but chose subjects from the (sometimes harsh) reality of everyday life. His work was therefore in line with an international trend that fanned out from France across Europe from the mid-19th century onwards. This is how this artist from The Hague became a trendsetter.

Charlotte Bouten

Portretfoto Charlotte Bouten MPM (via GvNL)

When Charlotte Bouten (1870-1895) had her photograph taken by the famous Amsterdam portrait photographer Max Cosman, she was probably unaware that she would only live to be 24 years old. She died suddenly from a (now) unknown cause. She was trained at the Rijksakademie in the capital and was also a pupil of Hendrik Willem Mesdag. Charlotte Bouten was actively committed to equal opportunities for female artists – exhibiting was almost impossible for many women. She made figure groups, portraits of animals and a few townscapes.

The makers of the Panorama

Panorama of Scheveningen

Anyone who visited Mesdag’s Panorama of Scheveningen after the opening on 1 August 1881, found more than just a reflection of reality, which perhaps still smelled a little of fresh paint. It was, as one journalist wrote, nature seen through the artist’s eyes. Mesdag made the everyday exceptional, above all through his choice for the effect of light: qualities in which the Hague School excelled. He received help from four other artists during the execution of the Panorama. Here you can see the nature of their expertise. Sientje Mesdag-van Houten and Théophile de Bock jointly painted the dunes and the unequalled sky. George Hendrik Breitner, who in addition to being a painter would become a photographer, painted such things as the horsemen. And finally, Bernard Blommers was responsible for a number of figures in the Panorama

  • Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, On the Fringe of the Dunes, undated, oil on canvas, 27,5 x 42 cm, Museum Panorama Mesdag
  • Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Riding a Donkey, oil on panel, 30,5 x 42 cm, Museum Panorama Mesdag
  • Bernard Blommers, The doll, 1879, watercolour, private collection
  • George Hendrik Breitner, Study of an Abyssinian, undated, oil on canvas, 45cm x 36cm, photo: Doro Keman
  • Théophile de Bock, Village by the Sea, undated, oil on panel, private collection, long-term loan
Schilderij van duinen in bruin en beige tinten met in het midden een kale boom een Scheveningse vrouw