Hendrik Willem Mesdag
The painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag, 1831-1915
The life of Hendrik William Mesdag
Hendrik Willem Mesdag was born in Groningen on February 23 in 1831 as the son of sizing manufacturer Klaas Mesdag (later banker) and Johanna Willemina van Giffen.
At a young age Hendrik was already interested in drawing and painting and was taught by teachers C.B. Buijs and by the director of Academy Minerva, J.H. Egenberger. However, Hendrik had to go into the family business and became a banker with banking firm Mesdag en Zonen.
On April we in 1856 Hendrik Willem Mesdag married Sientje van Houten, daughter of a rich timber merchant. After 7 years they get a son named Klaas, who unfortunately dies at the age of 8.
Encouraged by his wife, who also paints herself, Hendrik decided in 1866 to leave the business world and concentrate entirely on painting. This was made possible in part by the inheritance his wife received after the death of her father.
That summer Hendrik left with his family for Oosterbeek and then for Brussels, where he was introduced to Willem Roelofs by his second cousin L.A. Tadema, also a painter. Willem Roelofs is the teacher of Hendrik until 1869. In Brussels, Hendrik also befriends the Flemish artist Alfred Verwee, who is a landscape and animal painter and teaches Hendrik a few tricks.
Impressed by the sea
In the summer of 1868 Hendrik leaves with his wife and child for the sea in Norderney, an island of Germany. There Hendrik discovers the atmosphere, the beauty and grandeur of the air and the sea.
In 1869 they moved to The Hague, to the Anna Pauwlownastraat. Shortly afterwards Hendrik, together with his brother-in-law Samuel van Houten, built a house on the Laan van Meerdervoort (which is now part of the Mesdag museum).
To be closer to the sea, Hendrik regularly rents a room in Villa Elba, later Hotel Rauch, where he always has a room at his disposal. Hendrik Mesdag not only gets to know all facets of the sea, beach and dunes, but also gets to know a lot about the lives of the inhabitants of Scheveningen.
Master painter Hendrik received his first recognition in 1870 when he received a medal at the Paris salon for the painting ‘Les Brisants de la Mer du Nord’ (Branding of the North Sea). This painting is purchased by a jury member, Charles Chaplin.
In the period from 1873 to 1896, Hendrik sent several entries and received several medals. Hendrik Mesdag has been awarded international exhibitions in London, Lyon, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Berlin and Florence, and bacame an Officer in the French Legion of Honour.
Museum Mesdag and Pulchri
Together with Anton Mauve and Willem Maris, Hendrik is on the board of the Hollandsche Teekenmaatschappij, which was founded in 1876.
The businessman is still present in Hendrik. Over the years he has acquired a large valuable collection (more than 200 pieces) from the period of the Barbizon School (1830-1870). Hendrik decides to exhibit these paintings in an annexe, which is built in the garden of his house on the Laan van Meerdervoort. Museum H.W. Mesdag was opened in 1887. In 1903 Hendrik donated this museum to the Dutch State. Hendrik was thanked by a royal distinction in the ‘Orde van Oranje Nassau’ . Hendrik remained director of the museum until 1911.
Hendrik will become the chairman of the Pulchri Studio when it is founded. From 1889 to 1907 and until his death in 1915, Hendrik remained honorary chairman. Together with his brother Taco Hendrik he bought the house of former minister Gijsbert van Tienhoven on the Lange Voorhout in 1896, where after renovations, Pulchri exhibitions were held. These exhibitions are still taking place today.
Hendrik starts the panorama Mesdag in March 1881, where he is assisted by his wife Sientje and George Hendrik Breitner, who takes care of the artillery and the horses. Sienje dies in 1909 and is buried in a family tomb in the Oud Eik en Duinen cemetery in The Hague.
When Hendrik died on July 10, 1915, he was buried with Sientje with great interest, not only by family, friends and acquaintances, but also by representatives of the royal family and the government.
A masterpiece by Hendrik Willem Mesdag on your wall?
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