12 February 2015
March 4 will see the publication of the book Hendrik Willem Mesdag – Kunstenaar, verzamelaar, entrepreneur (“Artist, Collector, Entrepreneur”) edited by Maite van Dijk, Mayken Jonkman and Renske Suijver. The publication marks the start of the Mesdag Year 2015.
The Mesdag Year 2015 at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of this remarkable personality from The Hague. The digital Mesdag database will also be presented on the same day.
Many towns in the Netherlands have a Mesdag Street, Square or Lane, from Deurne to Apeldoorn, from Meppel to Heerlen. Yet who was this Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) in fact? The Mesdag year 2015 will start with the presentation of a book and a database that both provide a more complete picture of this important personality.
In Hendrik Willem Mesdag – Kunstenaar, verzamelaar, entrepreneur (Maite van Dijk, Mayken Jonkman and Renske Suijver, eds), Mesdag’s status as a famous painter of seascapes and art collector has been related to his entrepreneurial talents for the very first time. With his wide-ranging national and international network and the clever way in which he made use of his functions and interests, Hendrik Willem Mesdag managed to gain a key position in the cultural life of his day and age. The book shows that Mesdag did not only act as a true arts czar in the cultural world of The Hague, but that he also was a talented businessman and a versatile cultural entrepreneur at the same time. For instance, he was co-founder and a longstanding chairman of the society for watercolour painting, the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij (Dutch Drawing Company), and he decided which artists were allowed to be exhibited – he himself being one of those.
Mesdag, together with his wife Sientje, amassed a famous art collection and he won international awards for his own paintings. The Mesdags’ collection was so unique that the couple opened one of the first museums for contemporary arts in 1887 (today’s The Mesdag Collection). In 1903, Mesdag gave his museum to the Dutch state. Following Mesdag’s death, the artworks that remained part of the couple’s private collection were sold and ended up dispersed.
Since 2011, the Van Gogh Museum and the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History – carried out research into the complete, original collection of the Mesdag couple. In 2015, this research has resulted in making the original private collection, his entire correspondence and the current art collection of The Mesdag Collection digitally accessible. This long-awaited digital database opens up the wealth and variety of Mesdag’s collection to a large audience.
On 4 March, the presentation of the book and the digital database will be celebrated in The Mesdag Collection in The Hague, marking the start of the Mesdag Year and paying homage to Hendrik Willem Mesdag appropriately. Van Deurne tot Apeldoorn, van Meppel tot Heerlen, vele steden hebben een Mesdag-straat, -plein of -laan. Maar wie was Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) eigenlijk? Het Mesdagjaar 2015 gaat van start met de presentatie van een boek en een database die beide een completer beeld van deze belangrijke figuur geven.