About the Museum
The Panorama was painted in 1881 by Hendrik Willem Mesdag and commissioned by the panorama society, ‘Société Anonyme du Panorama Maritime de la Haye’.
With the assistance of painters from The Hague School – Blommers, De Bock and Breitner – and his wife Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, Mesdag painted a seascape, 120 metres in circumference and 14 metres high. Location: Seinpostduin, then the highest dune in Scheveningen.
The Panorama opened on 1 August 1881. Vincent van Gogh was among the guests who, impressed by the Panorama complained that the canvas had but one fault, that it was faultless.
In the 19th century, panoramas were a global phenomenon: an antecedent to photography and film, travelling panoramas were used to communicate news. In this way, visitors could find about what was going on elsewhere. At one point, there were around 300 panoramas in existence. Mesdag's Panorama is one of the few remaining examples and the oldest panorama in the world still at its original location.
Since 1910, the Panorama and associated collection of paintings and sketches have been administered by a family company that derives from Mesdag's will, in which he made his then 33 living cousins shareholders. Thirty-three descendants of the Mesdag-van Houten couple still care for their continuing existence.
The Panorama offers today's visitors the opportunity to discover Scheveningen as it was in 1881. An artistic view of the picturesque fishing village from the 19th century, the emerging cosmopolitan beach life and the encroaching city of The Hague are presented in a feast for the senses.
(Photo: Courtesy Panorama Mesdag)