THE DUTCH IN BARBIZON at the Mesdag Collection, The Hague.

Three rooms in Mesdag’s home show paintings, drawings, sketches created by French and Dutch artists working in or near Barbizon. Barbizon lies in the forest of Fontaine Blue, which once belonged to the French kings. The sprawling area was used as hunting grounds. This ensured it remained fairly untouched.

The woods contained centuries-old trees, as well as interesting boulders and rock formations. A stone’s throw away from Paris, it attracted 19th century artists working ‘en plein air‘. A 19th century map displays the exact spots, where many of the exhibited works were created.

The three exhibition themes are “the wood”, “rocks” and “the village”. Not all works show Barbizon scenes, nor do all belong to the Mesdag Collection. Loans from Museum Booijmans, the van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and others are included in this exhibition.

Works by Rousseau, Millet, Daubigny and Corot can be admired. Among the paintings are well-known ones, like Corot’s “Abandoned Quarry”. It seems to be part of most exhibitions on 19th century art.

Dutch painters who flocked to Barbizon included Jacob Maris, Johan Weissenbruch, Anton Mauve and Willem Roelofs. Their works hang next to examples by French artists. There are also a few photos of scenes, showing what these look like now.

Usually, landscapes and “sous-bois” interest me? At this exhibition, the room dedicated to ‘the village” captivated me. It shows scenes of women herding sheep, carding wool or flax, views of sleepy villages.

This small and nice exhibition in a 19th century period home is not worth a detour if one is pressed for time. However, it fits easily into a lunch-break. More time to spare? Visit the complete museum or include a visit to Panorama Mesdag. This museum practically lies around the corner.

Like the far larger exhibition at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, The Dutch in Barbizon runs until 7th January.   Kate Den   5th December 2017


This exhibition runs parallel to Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum’s The Dutch in Paris. Click here to read our review

Painting shown is Millet’s House in Barbizon by Jan Hendrik Weissenbruch (1824-1903) courtesy of Mesdag Collection in The Hague