RKD Netherland Institute for art History
On 1 August 1881, the opening of the Panorama of Scheveningen took place in The Hague. This enormous painting is also known as Panorama Mesdag, after its principal creator, Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915). Mesdag and his wife, Sientje Mesdag-van Houten, were assisted in its creation by three other artists. One of these was Bernard Blommers (1845-1914), who specialised in depicting seafaring life in Scheveningen. Consequently, he was the painter of a number of important figures in the panorama.
Why did Blommers’ contribution to the painting remain undiscovered for so long? What was the relationship between Mesdag and Blommers? How is it possible to find out more about this 140 years later? During her research, Evelien Visser made use of the collections of the RKD. In the visual documentation she compared images of Blommers’ work depicting fish auctions and other beachscapes to see whether his paintings on the panorama were in line with his earlier work. In the press documentation, Evelien found the earliest source in which Blommers is named as painter of the Panorama of Scheveningen, a newspaper article from 1931. She also went in search of sources which would help clarify the relationship between Mesdag and Blommers.
In the latest episode of the RKD podcast Kroniek Kunstgeschiedenis (Art-Historical Chronicle), Evelien talks about her discoveries. She has previously presented the findings of her research in the article ‘Uit vriendschap’ (‘Out of friendship’), which appeared in the book De Schilders van het Panorama van Scheveningen (The Painters of the Panorama of Scheveningen), published by Museum Panorama Mesdag and Scriptum Art. The exhibition of the same name in Museum Panorama Mesdag in The Hague can be viewed until 26 September 2021.