Mesdag painted Along the Dutch coast in 1882, at the begining of his most productive period. That year, he also painted the famous Panorama Mesdag for The Hague, which Van Gogh described, 'this painting has one fault; it is faultless".
Hendrick-Willem Mesdag was the key member of The Hague School, a movement that swept Dutch art in the 1870s and 1880s. On the advice of his cousin, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Mesdag studied with Willem Roelofs, and under their guidance, he adopted a broad but distinctive style of painting. In Brussels, he also met the Belgian seascape painters Paul Jean Clays and Louis Artan, both of whom played an important role in his development.
Following a visit to an island on the north coast of Groningue in 1866, Mesdag resolved to become a painter of seascapes. In 1869 Mesdag went to The Hague, renting a room in the nearby fishing-village Scheveningen. There he could be as close as possible to his main source of inspiration: the sea.
Mesdag's break-through took place in 1870, when his Les Brisants de la Mer du Nord earned him a gold medal at the Paris Salon, where it hung next to the Wave, by Courbet. The Salon established his reputation as a painter of seascapes, gaining him recognition in Holland as well as abroad.
Mesdag soon became the leading artist of The Hague School; he was president of the Pulchri Studio, the center of the movement, for 17 years. In 1908, G.H. Marius commented "Hendrik Willem Mesdag came, with his direct, realistic point of view, to surprise the world with the fact that the unbiased painting of the sea, straight from nature, the aspects of the North Sea coast were now for the first time represented as they appeared before our eyes. Marius realised that Mesdag's broad touch, impressive truth and tonal power differed significantly from the highly finished and minutely detailed seascapes of romantic painters of that time. Mesdag's vigorous brushwork and 'real' seas were invariably seen as proof that his paintings possessed 'truth' and 'immediacy'. (G.H. Marius, Dutch Painters of the 19th Century, Suffolk, 1908, p. 156).
Since 1975 research on Mesdag's work has been done by the Mesdag Documentation Society 1975, in close cooperation with the RKD (Rijksdient Kunsthistorische Documentatie), the Dutch national institute for historic art documentation. The MDS is preparing a catalogue raisonn, a catalogue with an analysis of Mesdag's work.
We are grateful to J.Poort M.Sc. Delft., President-Mesdag Documentation for authenticating this painting and for assisting in preparing this catalogue entry.