Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Hague: Panorama Mesdag

With the colours of Keukenhof still vivid in my mind, I found myself back at Schipol Airport where I boarded a train and stepped out at the Hague Centraal 30 minutes later.A friend from varsity, who lives and works in the Hague, met me at the station and gave me a quick tour of the city centre as we walked back to her apartment.

The next day while she had to go to work, I headed out to explored the rest of the city, armed with a map and her very useful Afrikaans-Dutch dictionary (because you never know when you might find yourself on the brink of starvation and need to ask for "een appel alstublieft!").

According to the map I was very close to the Panorama Mesdag and when I saw the warm and inviting interior, I immediately stepped out of the cold wind and gladly paid the entrance fee. Although the locals reckon that you can just take a bus to Scheveningen and step out into the real, not to mention modern, deal 5 minutes later, the museum was well worth the visit.

I joined a group of German tourists in the centre of the museum where we gazed out to the canvas 14 meters from where we stood. 
"Da ist es," a German husband motioned to his wife, hopefully pointing to something on the panorama. 
Because the panorama itself could not be missed.

Gazing Out

The scene of Scheveningen, painted in 1881 by Hendrik Mesdag, rose 14 m high and the landscape of 120 m long stretched 360 degrees around the viewing platform. The detail and scale was incredible, creating the illusion of overlooking the ocean from atop a sand dune.

Scheveningen Scenes

As I was pondering how the Scheveningen landscape was transferred to the canvas in such a flawless manner 132 years before, a voice to my left provided the answer.
"Da ist es, Heike."
We all turned with Heike to look at the glass cylinder to which her husband was pointing.

Glass Cylinder

Hendrik Mesdag first drew the scene on the glass cylinder and thereafter transferred it to the canvas with the help of his wife and assistants. 
Four month later the panorama Mesdag was born - the oldest panorama still in its original location.

Panorama of the Panorama

It is said that Willem Mesdag himself can be seen in the Panorama, painting beneath a blue umbrella on the Scheveningen beach.

Painter in a Painting

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