Theo Colenbrander is famous for his distinctive ceramics with eye-catching designs and vivid colours. The Mesdags were keen collectors of his work. Their impressive collection of Colenbrander ceramics was on show during the exhibition 'Mesdag & Colenbrander'.
8 March - 23 June 2019
Theo Colenbrander (1841-1930) is sometimes seen as the Netherlands’ first ever exponent of industrial design. Hendrik Willem and Sientje Mesdag were among the first purchasers of his conspicuously modern earthenware, acquiring it both for their home and for their museum.
The Mesdags’ collection of Colenbrander ceramics is one of the finest in the Netherlands. When Hendrik Willem Mesdag died in 1915, it comprised around 130 objects and garnitures. Parts of the private collection were subsequently dispersed. This exhibition brings a number of these items back to their original home.
Recognizable and modern
The majority of the works in Mesdag & Colenbrander date from the Rozenburg period (1884-1889), when Colenbrander began designing semi-abstract decorative schemes in bright colours. The pieces are recognizable by their modern body shapes. Also on show are a number of pieces from Colenbrander’s time with the RAM pottery in Arnhem (1921-1924).
The exhibition also looks at the creative process by which the ceramics were designed and decorated. Mesdag & Colenbrander offers a representative overview of Colenbrander’s work for Rozenburg. It also throws light on the relationship between Mesdag and Colenbrander. Mesdag was not just a major collector of Colenbrander’s ceramics; he also became a shareholder in the Rozenburg pottery in The Hague, where Colenbrander was the chief designer at the time when the Museum Mesdag opened.
The exhibition is guest-curated by photographers and ceramics lovers Erik and Petra Hesmerg. They show Colenbrander’s ceramics in context. They photographed the main pieces for the accompanying book and selected the finest works.
Publication Mesdag & Colenbrander
This book describes the Mesdags’ extraordinary collection of Colenbrander ceramics and discusses the colourful and attractive style and innovative designs associated with his ceramics.
Author: Titus M. Eliëns, a specialist in the Dutch decorative arts. Dutch-English edition, € 19.95. This book is available online in the Van Gogh Museum’s webstore and in the Dutch bookstores.
With thanks to
This exhibition is generously supported by: