What is on display at the museum? The Mesdag Collection is home to the remarkable collection of 19th-century art assembled by renowned seascape painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife, artist Sientje Mesdag-van Houten.
The collection features countless masterpieces by Barbizon painters including Charles François Daubigny, Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet, and from the Hague School, such as paintings by the Maris brothers, Anton Mauve and Jozef Israëls.
The collection has been exhibited in the Mesdag’s charming private museum since 1887, and the museum’s galleries still exude the captivating 19th-century character. The Mesdag’s former residence is located adjacent to the museum, and is now used for temporary exhibitions. Several attractive spaces are available for hire for meetings and events.
The Mesdag Collection museum is managed by the Van Gogh Museum Foundation.
English subtitles are available in this YouTube video
The Mesdags and their collection
In the second half of the 19th century, this artistic couple from The Hague amassed an impressive collection of paintings, drawings and applied arts. Hendrik Willem Mesdag himself was a celebrated Hague School painter, and Sientje Mesdag- van Houten was also an artist. Both were prominent figures in the Dutch art world. Acquisitions for their collection were focused on studies and sketchy paintings, in which the creator’s hand is clear to see.
They certainly had a keen eye for quality and craftsmanship, as is evident in the collection of Japanese decorative art and in the ceramics by Theodoor Colenbrander.
The Mesdag Collection is primarily renowned for its range of French masterpieces by Barbizon painters (it houses one of the largest and most significant collections in the world), alongside its impressive collection of Hague School paintings, watercolours and drawings.
Part of the Van Gogh Museum
In 1903, Mesdag gifted his museum to the Dutch state, and since 1990, The Mesdag Collection has been managed by the Van Gogh Museum Foundation.
The French and Dutch painters that Mesdag admired and collected were a significant source of inspiration for Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh himself even took painting lessons in The Hague from his cousin by marriage, the artist Anton Mauve. In 1882, Van Gogh visited an exhibition featuring part of Mesdag’s collection of French paintings. He praised what he had seen in his letters.
The collections of The Mesdag Collection and the Van Gogh Museum complement each other and offer a comprehensive overview of late 19th-century art.