Panorama Mesdag, largest Dutch painting

This video is called Panorama Mesdag- Den Haag – Netherlands – Nahum Gofberg.

On 4 September 2012, I went to The Hague in the Netherlands, to the Panorama Mesdag museum. Not only to the temporary exhibition of works of painter Isaac Israëls which is there now.

Also to the permanent exhibits; the most important one of which is, of course, the big Panorama Mesdag painting which gave the museum its name.

The painting is on the Internet now. But that does not completely prepare one for the size of the work of art.

Hendrik Willem Mesdag, his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, and other artists painted Panorama Mesdag in 1880-1881.

The museum building also exhibits “normal size” paintings by the Mesdag couple. The aim of panoramic paintings is to create an illusion of reality. So, in the big panorama, the painting style was a bit more photo-realistic than often in their The Hague School-style usual paintings.

The nineteenth century saw many technical changes, like the rise of photography, and later cinema. The rise of panoramic painting then was a reaction to that. However, most panoramic paintings turned out to be not commercially viable. Panorama Mesdag today is one of few panoramas surviving the late nineteenth century decline; because the makers funded the operating losses from their own pockets.

The panorama depicts Scheveningen, then in 1880 a mainly fishing village west of The Hague. Today, tourism is the main business in Scheveningen. Much has changed; as one can see, comparing the panorama to today’s reality.

The panorama does already depict bathing tourists. Most of Mesdag’s paintings on Scheveningen are on fishing. While the work about Scheveningen by the younger Isaac Israëls is mainly about bathing and other tourism.


13 thoughts on “Panorama Mesdag, largest Dutch painting

  1. Great post and a super link to the internet view. It was worth the time to sit through the amazing painting. We have a panoramic painting in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania but it is not as pleasant as this one in The Haag. It shows the misery and death of men laying all over Gettysburg. Brother fighting brother, cousin vs cousin, it really brings you back to the battle and makes you wonder what man is all about.


  2. At Panorama Mesdag, when I was there years ago, there was no sound. However, this week, there was a voice with explanation in English and Dutch; and seagulls’ recorded sounds.


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