Hendrik Willem Mesdagartist • painter • watercolourist • draughtsmanGroningen 1831-1915 Den Haag
biography of Hendrik Willem Mesdag
Portrait of Hendrik Willem Mesdag
The banker's son Hendrik Willem Mesdag started his career as artists only when he was 35, encouraged by his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten. At the outset his successful cousin Lourens Alma Tadema would have said: “You will never become a Meissonnier, perhaps even a Courbet.” In Mesdag's tasteful collection there was no work by the great French painter Meissonnier, but Courbet was well represented. , like many painters from the Barbizon School and contemporaries. On the advice of Alma Tadema, Mesdag was apprenticed to Willem Roelofs in Brussels in 1866, after a short stopover at Johannes Warnardus Bilders in Oosterbeek. At the time, Bilders advised him not to become 'little Roelofs', but to keep seeing with his own eyes. Own interpretation and reproduction are important in the various art movements after romanticism. Modern art is no longer a representation of ideal reality, but the interpretation of real nature. Artists are widely appreciated for their obstinacy and originality.
In Mesdag's beach scenes and open seas you can almost feel the salty air and the cold wind of the North Sea. He perfectly portrays the color and scent of the Dutch coast with his palette of nuanced green, gray and brown. He not only touches the right strings in his broad, fast touch, he also knows how to innovate and vary in composition so that no painting is the same. In the context of his predecessors from The Hague with the romantic beach views - such as Andreas Schelfhout, Hermanus Koekkoek and Louis Meijer - Mesdag's contribution to the Hague School formed a breath of fresh air for the modern art lover.
Mesdag practiced a lot, had a great urge to paint and was happy to receive criticism. When, in 1870, everyone was surprised to earn the gold medal at the Paris Salon with a large seascape, his reputation was immediately established in the Netherlands. He joined Pulchri Studio in The Hague, where he became one of the most important members. Mesdag established himself as one of the greatest marine and beach painters of his time with a large production of high quality. He built up a strong international network, sold well at home and abroad and participated in many exhibitions. His wife, Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, also painted in impressionist style, with characteristics from the Hague School in terms of color and touch. Her paintings often radiate an intimate atmosphere and are clearly influenced by her husband and their company in The Hague.