The Hague School

After the great periods of Dutch art in the Golden Age of the 17th century, there were economic and political problems which dimished activity in art.  The fine arts in the Netherlands enjoyed a revival around 1830, a time now referred to as the romantic period in Dutch painting.  The most widely accepted paintings of this period were landscapes and paintings which reflected national history.  Andreas Schelfhout was a painter of landscapes, especially winter scenes, but also woodlands and the dunes between The Hague and Scheveningen. The style was an imitation of the great 17th century artists.

Art training at that time was usually in the form of drawing schools, with no painting classes.  Many young artists were frustrated by this and scattered to various places to receive the training they desired. Gerald  Bilders left the Hague Academy of Drawing and completed training with the Swiss painter, Carles Haubert. Paul Gabriel studied with the landscape painter B. C. Koekkoek. Jozef Israels, unsatisfied with the academies at Groningen and Amsterdam, left for Paris to attend classes at Picot's studio. Jacob Maris left the Hague Academy to study with Eernest Hebert in Paris, while his brother Matthijs studied with de Keyser in Antwerp. Hendrik Wilhelm Mesdag left Groningen to study with Willem Roelofs.

At about this same time, the 1830's artists like Rousseau, Daiz, Troyon, and Corot found their way to Barbizon, a forested area near Fontainebleau. The emphasis of their work here was on painting nature as they saw it.  This gave rise to the well known Barbizon school.  Their example was followed in the 1850's by a few Dutch painters who gathered in Oosterbeek in order to work in the surrounding countryside.  These painters had been influenced by the artists of the Barbizon School(and in many cases had even studied with them) and emulated these painters by registering their impressions with rapid strokes of color.   J.W. Bilders, father of Gerald, moved to Oosterbeek  in 1852 and attracted many pupils: Anton Mauve, uncle of Vincent Van Gogh, the Maris brothers in the summer, as well as the regular visitors Willem Roelofs and Paul Gabriel.  Some of these artists also visted Barbizon to develop their interest in lansdscapes and rural life.  In the 1850's and 1860's Israels, Jacob Maris and J. H. Weissenbruch  went there to paint.

In the 1870's a number of these artists began working together in The Hague.  Mesdag came in 1869, Jacob Maris in 1871, Jozef Israels and Anton Mauve in 1871, while Willlem Maris, Johannes Bosboom and Weissenbruch had always lived there.  The name "Hague School" was coined in 1875 by a critic who used the phrases "a new way of seeing and depicting things", "intent to convey mood, tone takes precedence over color",  "almost exclusive preference for so-called 'bad weather' effects", and "gray mood"  They were less interested in a faithful portrayal of what they saw than in conveying the atmosphere and impression of the moment.  They painted in mostly in subdued colors, with a penchant for gray. That is why the Hague School is sometimes called the Gray School.

By the 1880's the united front of the Hague School began to crumble.  Israels joined Breitner who was one of the influences of a Impressionistic group which developed there.  Weissenbruch and Roelofs found The Hague to be growing too fast and retreated to the polders. Jacob Maris and Israels abandoned the use of somber colors, while Weissenbruch blurred more of his details.

Examples of some of these painters are exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Haags Gemeentemuseum in Den Haag(The Hague).

Some of my favorite works from the Hague Schools are here.