Hague School 1860 – 1890

Group of Dutch artists, mainly living in The Hague between 1870 and 1900 The name was first coined in 1875 by the critic Jacob van Santen Kolff (1848–96) The Hague school painters drew their inspiration from the flat polder landscape and the everyday lives of peasants and fishermen around The Hague and the nearby port of Scheveningen The group covers two generations of painters, born roughly between 1820 and 1845 Their headquarters was the artists’ society Pulchri Studio In the mid-1850s some of the younger painters, including the three brothers Jacob, Matthijs and Willem Maris from The Hague, and the Haarlem-based Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël and Anton Mauve, laid the foundation for a new landscape art based on the close study of nature in the area around Oosterbeek, later styled the ‘Dutch Barbizon’ Jozef Israëls, who was still living in Amsterdam at the time, established himself as the leading artist in the depiction of fishing scenes in the early 1860s

The Hague School is a group of artists who lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890 Their work was heavily influenced by the realist painters of the French Barbizon school The painters of the Hague school generally made use of relatively somber colors, which is why the Hague School is sometimes called the Gray School

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After the great periods of Dutch art in the Golden Age of the 17th century, there were economic and political problems which diminished 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 style was an imitation of the great 17th-century artists 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 Art training at that time was usually in the form of drawing schools, with no painting classes Many young artists who later became members of the Hague School were frustrated by this and scattered to various places to receive the training they desired

Gerard Bilders had been seeking something of the kind in his own work, but on visiting the national Exhibition in Brussels in 1860, he found what he had been looking for: a colored gray tonality, or as he put it “the impression of a warm, fragrant gray” The muted tones and warm gray that Bilders found here was certainly discussed with his friends in Oosterbeek and found its way into the work of the young Hague School painters

The migration of these artists to The Hague began in the late 1860s Hendrik Willem Mesdag was the first, moving there in 1869 Jacob Maris returned to The Hague in 1870 after the family’s experience in Paris in the Franco-Prussian War That same year Jozef Israëls came to The Hague, as did Anton Mauve Willem Maris, Johannes Bosboom and Weissenbruch had always lived there For Mesdag, the move marked the end of his student days in Brussels For Maris it meant a break with the Paris dealers, who would not let him paint what he wanted Friendship played an important role in this group of painters and whenever one of them was invited to take part in a major exhibition, he would arrange for his friends to also submit work The outside world was thus presented with a picture of a united artistic and stylized front The gray tonality was to become one of the characteristics of the Hague School

By the mid-1880s the united front of the Hague School began to crumble The character of the city of The Hague changed as it became larger The small fishing village of Scheveningen changed as new suburbs were built and factories transformed the area Weissenbruch and Roelofs found The Hague to be growing too fast and retreated to the polders to continue painting