Panorama Mesdag

In 1879 Mesdag first made contact with a group of Belgian entrepreneurs who wanted to lay the foundations for a panorama under the name ‘Society Anonyme du Panorama Maritime de la Haye’. The panorama was a much-loved visual attraction in this period, when there was no cinema and television to provide information and entertainment. The Society approached Mesdag to create a ‘painting without borders’, as panoramas were sometimes called at that time. Mesdag would receive a substantial fee and he had the right to select his own subject and collaborators. Mesdag regarded this offer as the unique opportunity to paint the greatest sea piece he would ever create and also to preserve Scheveningen for posterity.

The Panorama Mesdag

Mesdag started his vast project on 28 March, 1881. Many preparatory sketches and studies have been preserved. In two sketchbooks containing the many sketches made each day, we see the Panorama evolving. Topographically the sketches are quite precise and this exactness has been kept in the final result of the Panorama. On 1 August 1881 the Panorama Maritime was opened to the public. The total surface of the canvas is 1600 m2
Mesdag's collaborators were his wife Sientje, Théophile de Bock and twenty-three-year-old George Hendrik Breitner, who was still a pupil of The Hague Academy and was honored by this commission. 5 Bernard blommers also contributed to a limited extent.

Zeestraat, 1865

In Mesdag's day the Zeestraat was a beautiful approach to Scheveningen from an important quarter of town; the Willemspark, situated near the Panorama also had its own elegance. The entrance to the dome-shaped Panorama began in the Zeestraat through a sandy path with privet hedges. The Panorama, like many of its kind, went bankrupt in 1886. This was an unacceptable situation for Mesdag. He purchased the building and the canvas and kept the Panorama open at a considerable loss. Nowadays the Panorama is still a popular place to visit and one of the largest tourist attractions in The Hague.

Detail canvas
Panorama Mesdag
  Detail canvas Panorama Mesdag, Sientje sitting behind her easel

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