Welcome to The Mesdag Collection

Now on view: Nature’s picture. Photography meets painting in the 19th century


Photography is thoroughly embedded in everyday life today, but in the 19th century it was a new and labour-intensive medium. Photography began to take its cue from painting soon after its invention. The landscape was one of the locations in which a lively dialogue arose between photography and the art of painting. In France, photographers and painters worked literally side by side in the forest at Fontainebleau, with each influencing the other.

The Mesdag Collection presents the exhibition Nature’s Picture. Photography meets painting in the 19th century. This exhibition brings together The Mesdag Collection’s high-quality holding of Barbizon paintings with early landscape photographs from collections including the Musée d’Orsay and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Nature’s Picture uses loans that are rarely seen in public.

This unique exhibition will be on show till 5 June 2016. Read more about the exhibition.

Achille Quinet
Wooded landscape in Fontainebleau1868-1875, albumen print 
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Achille Quinet
Wooded landscape in Fontainebleau

1868-1875, albumen print
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Masterpiece in the spotlight

This month we turn the spotlight on Mesdag’s Study for Panorama of Scheveningen in ‘Masterpiece in the spotlight‘. He made various preliminary studies for his large panoramic painting of the dunes in Scheveningen.

Read more

Hendrik Willem Mesdag - Study for Panorama of Scheveningen

Hendrik Willem Mesdag
Study for Panorama of Scheveningen

1880, Oil on canvas
The Mesdag Collection, The Hague


Order online or buy in the Museum shop the book  The Mesdag Collection by Maite van Dijk, curator and Renske Suijver, researcher at the Van Gogh Museum.

This richly illustrated book tells the story of the remarkable collector from The Hague and includes all the highlights of the collection. Languages: English and Dutch. Price € 19,95.

> This book is available in the Van Gogh Museum online shop

Camille Corot (1796-1875) Chalk Rocks at Yport (detail)1872, Oil on canvas The Mesdag Collection The Hague

Camille Corot (1796-1875)
Chalk Rocks at Yport (detail)

1872, Oil on canvas
The Mesdag Collection The Hague

About the museum

The Mesdag Collection houses the exceptional collection of 19th-century art assembled by the renowned marine painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten. The collection, which contains a host of masterpieces by the French Barbizon School and the Hague School, has been exhibited in the Mesdags’ delightful private museum since 1887. Adjacent to the museum is the Mesdags’ former home, which can be hired for meetings and events.

The Mesdag Collection. Photography: René S. Gerritsen

Photography: René S. Gerritsen

At home with the Mesdags

In the late 19th century, the Mesdags held many leadership positions in the art world of The Hague. Hendrik Willem and Sientje served on numerous boards, organised parties and receptions and opened the doors of their own studios to the cultural elite. They also exhibited their own art collection in one of the first museums of contemporary art. Many photographs of their lives have been preserved. They include portraits, of course, but also beautiful views of their studios, their private quarters and the many social events that they organised. You can enjoy a semi-permanent presentation in their former residence, with reproductions of these historic photographs showing the many-faceted lives of this artist couple.

Read more about the presentation ‘At home with the Mesdags: Photographs of an artistic life‘.

Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, 1906

Hendrik Willem Mesdag and Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, 1906

Photo : O. Becker & J. Maas
De Mesdag Collectie, Den Haag