The great strength of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague lies in its possession of three major special collections of 19th and 20th century art: the Hague School, Escher and Mondrian. In future, each of these collections is to be given its own separate wing of the museum. Within these dedicated spaces, regular changes will be made in the presentation of the works. Following the opening of a completely new Mondrian display some weeks ago, it is now the turn of the Hague School. The dedicated wing opens with an exhibition entitled Open Country – the Hague School. Two of the smaller spaces in the wing are to be permanently devoted to changing displays of Hague School drawings. One of them will feature drawings made by Vincent van Gogh during his period in the Hague.
The new exhibition comprises top works belonging to the museum plus major items on loan from the Johan Poort and Caldic Collections. The presentation is chronological. It begins with J.H. Weissenbruch and Johannes Bosboom, whose early works are influenced by the Romantic movement, whereas the paintings of Willem Roelofs and the Maris brothers (Jacob, Matthijs and Willem) show the impact of Barbizon and Oosterbeek. Jozef Israëls and Willem Mesdag are the great pioneers of the group. The exhibition continues with a selection of works by the second generation of Hague School painters, including items by Suze Robertson and Willem de Zwart. Finally, the last gallery features the period of transition to later styles, with works by G.H. Breitner, Jan Toorop and Isaac Israëls.
Even before the name was first used in 1875, the Hague School artists were enjoying considerable artistic and commercial success. Their presence at successive World Exhibitions from 1855 onwards won them a progressive reputation. After 1870 they began to ask higher prices for their work and by around 1880 they were attracting the interest of American and Canadian collectors. After 1890 they gradually fell out of favour, but the final decades of the 20th century brought a revival of interest and a number of major retrospectives. At recent auctions top prices have been paid for Hague School masters, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere.
Het Haagse School boek
John J.Th. Sillevis and Anne Tabak
Museum book, accompanying an exhibition held in 2001 in The Hague (Gemeentemuseum Den Haag)
416 pp., 17 cm.
The Hague (Gemeentemuseum Den Haag) and Zwolle (Waanders) 2001