The Mesdag Collection
TMC in short
The Mesdag Collection in The Hague exhibits the collection of artists and collectors Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten. Together with the Van Gogh Museum, the museum in The Hague makes up the Van Gogh Museum Foundation. The collections of both museums complement each other and offer a comprehensive overview of late 19th-century art. Two exhibitions are organised in TMC every year.
The Sensation of the Sea | Photograph: Jan-Kees Steenman
Exhibitions, activities and acquisitions
Mesdag & Japan
7 March – 17 June 2018
During Van Gogh & Japan at the VGM, Mesdag & Japan: Collecting the Far East was on display at TMC. In the years around the opening of his museum in 1887, Hendrik Willem Mesdag acquired a collection of Japanese decorative art, varying from samurai swords to Satsuma vases. The exhibition explored how Mesdag became acquainted with Japanese art, where and how he collected it, and how Japonism influenced art in The Hague in general.
This unique exhibition attracted a record number of more than 5,600 visitors. Mesdag & Japan was accompanied by a richly-illustrated book, the first in a series of publications illuminating a specific part of the collection. As a result of this exhibition, the sizeable collection of Japanese objects in TMC was made available online.
2018 in numbers - The Mesdag Collection
|72,355 website visitors|
|3,903 Facebook fans|
|1,212 Instagram fans|
Mesdag & Japan | Photograph: Jan-Kees Steenman
The Sensation of the Sea
14 September 2018 – 6 January 2019
In the exhibition The Sensation of the Sea: In honour of Bas Jan Ader, guest curator Joanna De Vos took an innovative approach to uniting contemporary and 19th-century art at the museum. Odes to In Search of the Miraculous, the performance by Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, were the central theme. A range of international artists, including Bill Viola and Nan Goldin, contributed to the exhibition, in which paintings, video art, installations and ceramics took turns in the spotlights. The exhibition attracted more than 4,000 visitors.
The Hague anniversary year: Culture by the Sea
In 2018, The Hague hosted a year of celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Scheveningen. Cultural institutions in The Hague, including TMC, joined forces in the joint campaign entitled Culture by the Sea.
TMC organised so-called ‘beach walks’, guided tours in which visitors were introduced to the finest seascapes featured on works in the collection, before enjoying a picnic in the museum garden. The autumn exhibition The Sensation of the Sea also linked to the theme.
Additional sparkle was added to the anniversary year when Beach Scene in Holland (c. 1878-1880), a painting by Mesdag himself, was gifted to the museum. For more than a century, the painting was owned by a Dutch family, who now live in Canada. It is an ambitious, detailed painting featuring numerous figures. Attention to detail, such as the reflection of the figures in the shallow water, elevates the painting to a particularly attractive beach scene. Thanks to this gift, Beach Scene in Holland returned to the house where Mesdag painted the work nearly 140 years earlier.
The acquisition of Philip Sadée’s Herring Smokers brought another work back to the collection. This painting was originally part of a door at Hendrik Willem Mesdag’s studio on the Laan van Meerdervoort in The Hague. All eight panels were painted by artist friends of the Mesdags. Sadée painted four women in an interior working on a step in the herring smoking process; they skewer the fish on a stick to allow them to dry.
Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Beach Scene in Holland, c. 1878-1880. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (gift of Mr and Mrs Frans K. Winkel, Michael K. Winkel, Martin P. Winkel and family)
Philip Sadée, Herring Smokers (Les Saurissières), 1869-1888. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam