In the second half of the 19th century, this artistic couple from The Hague assembled an impressive collection of paintings, drawings and applied arts.
Quality and craftsmanship
Mesdag himself was a celebrated Hague School artist. He was extremely fond of studies and sketch-like paintings in which the individual style of the artist in question shone through. Mesdag also had a keen eye for quality and craftsmanship, as is clearly evident in his collection of Japanese decorative art and ceramics by Theodoor Colenbrander.
The Mesdag Collection is primarily renowned for its remarkable collection of masterpieces from the French Barbizon School (it houses one of the largest and most significant collections in the world), alongside its impressive collection of Hague School paintings, watercolours and drawings.
Administered by the Van Gogh Museum
In 1903 Mesdag donated his museum to the Dutch state, and since 1990 The Mesdag Collection is part of The Van Gogh Museum Foundation.
The French and Dutch artists that Mesdag admired and collected were an important source of inspiration for Vincent van Gogh, who even took lessons from Mauve. In 1882 Van Gogh saw part of Mesdag’s collection of French art at an exhibition, writing eulogistically in one of his letters:
“There is a lot of fine work there by Dupré, Corot, Daubigny, Diaz, Courbet, Breton, Jacque &c. (…) I’m glad I managed to see it all.”
Vincent to Theo, 15-16 July 1882
The collections of The Mesdag Collection and the Van Gogh Museum complement each other nicely, providing a good overview of late 19th-century art.