In the 1890's The Hague School painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag was a very well established artist in the national and international art world who was commited to the subject of the sea. Mesdag started his career as a professional artist in 1866, after leaving his job as a banker at his father's office. He moved to Brussels, where he studied with artists such as Willem Roelofs (1822-1897) and Laurens Alma Tadema (1836-1912). During this period, he mostly painted the landscape around Brussels and was focused on painting detailed studies of subjects he found in and around his house. While on holiday on the island of Norderney in 1868, Mesdag made a large number of sea studies for the first time, which he would use as a basis for paintings once back home. These paintings received high praise by his colleagues, and Mesdag had discovered the subject he would keep using throughout his career: the sea.
In 1869 Mesdag and his wife, Sientje Mesdag-van Houten decided to move to The Hague, where they could study the sea daily. The change of theme marked the start of an international career with frequent exhibitions of works at the Salon de Paris, where his realistic rendering of views of the North Sea and Scheveningen made a strong and positive impression on art critics. From 1870 to 1911, Mesdag exhibited at least two works at the Salon de Paris every year, which he considered to be the most important international exhibition.
Mesdag painted the present lot in 1890, at the zenith of his career. He had just become chairman of Pulchri Studio in 1889, an important platform for the painters of The Hague School as it gave them the opportunity to exhibit their works. Mesdag would remain chairman until 1907 and significantly increase the activities of Pulchri Studio to promote The Hague School artists inside and outside of Holland.
The present lot, dated 1890, is a wonderful rendering of the beach at Scheveningen prior to the changes Mesdag lamented so much. Mesdag was not only focused on the representation of the daily activities on the beach and the strong narrative element of the subject matter, but - especially in his latter work - his main emphasis was laid in capturing the atmosphere of a specific mood out of the daily life of the fisherfolk of Scheveningen. It was not only the critics of the Salon that praised the sincerity of his works and their truthful rendering of reality, today Mesdag is also very much admired for these abilities.