"IN LIGHT OF VENICE"
IN HONOR OF DAVID ROSAND
Presented by Robert Simon & Otto Naumann
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2016
WINTER 2014 - 2015
SIENTJE MESDAG-VAN HOUTEN
(Groningen 1834 – 1909 The Hague)
Sientje Mesdag-van Houten was born on December 23rd 1824 in Groningen, The Netherlands, and died on March 20th, 1909 in The Hague. She was the oldest daughter of Derk van Houten and Barbara Elisaeth Meihuizen. Her family was prominent in Groningen, and her siblings were also gifted artistically and intellectually. But the person who was mainly responsible for stimulating Steintje’s artistic career was her husband, the well-known painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag, whom she married in 1864 when she was twenty-one years old. H.W. Mesdag began as a banker in his father’s financial company, but his heart was clearly in paintings. So, in 1864, after his father’s death, he began in earnest as a professional painter. The couple moved to Brussels, where at the time there was a thriving artistic community. Mesdag’s nephew, Laurens Alma Tadema, lived in Brussels, and Tadema introduced Mesdag to Willem Roelofs, who soon became his teacher. Sientje studied along with her husband, and together they amassed one of the largest and most comprehensive collections in their time of nineteenth century art.
After a stay in Nordeny in Northern Germany, the Mesdags became enamored of the sea and beach, and they decided to move to The Hague, which is close to the famous beaches of Scheveningen. In 1870 Sientje began taking drawing lessons with Johannes Christiaan d’Arnaud Gerkens (1823 – 1892). The drawings in the present exhibition include figural studies and portrayals of wooded landscapes and seaside scenes. In an email communication of 1 May 2000, Sarah de Clercq, co-author of the monograph on Mesdag-van Houten, noted that the latter drawings are ‘very special, because [Mesdag-van Houten did not]... go that often to the beach to work. In the beginning of her career she used to go sometimes with her husband, but she preferred the landscape around the Veluwe’. These views, and the studies of boats may well have been used in preparation for Hendrik Mesdag’s extraordinary painting in 360 degrees, the Panorama Mesdag, in The Hague. After the death of her son Klaas, Seintje spent all of her time painting. Her earliest paintings represented local landscape scenes in the surroundings of The Hague. Gradually, she moved to still-life painting, for which she is best known. Sientje was an active member of the artists’ associations in The Hague known as “Pulchri Studio” and “De Hollandsche Teeken-Maatschappij.”
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