Since 1976 R POLAK GALLERY is specialising in buying and selling oil paintings and watercolours from the 19th and 20th century.
The stock of the gallery consists of oil paintings, watercolours and drawings covering a wide range from the Romantic School to early Modernism (1890-1920), but our gallery owes its greatest fame to a large collection of high quality paintings and watercolours from the so-called Hague School.
Lately there has been a growing interest for the atmospheric art of the Hague School. The art loving public has rediscovered this influential Dutch art movement, which manifested itself between 1860 and 1900. The official art world contributed considerably to this revaluation. Several Dutch museums devoted exhibitions to the Hague School and its individual members (among which Hendrik Willem Mesdag, P.J.C. Gabriël, Willem Roelofs, Anton Mauve and the brothers Maris). The Teylers Museum in Haarlem en the Jan Cunen Museum in Oss for example. Only a few years ago the Rotterdam Kunsthal organised a highly successful exhibition of the Hague School. Also Jacob Maris was honoured with a large scale retrospective, shown in several Dutch museums. Therefore we can safely say that the Hague School has moved back to the centre of interest.
The renewed interest for the Hague School didn’t come as a surprise. At a time of rapid urbanisation and growing industrialisation, the Hague School cherished the beauty of the unspoilt Dutch landscape with its meadows, polders, grazing cows and windmills. Painters like Paul Gabriël, Willem Roelofs, J.H. Weissenbruch and the Maris brothers went out in the open field to paint directly after nature ('en plein air'), catching the ever changing play of light in rapid sketches. The artists worked in the polders near the villages of Nieuwkoop, Noorden and Kortenhoef, where they encountered the green pastures, canals, windmills and cloudy skies they favoured so much. Several Hague School artists worked on the Dutch coast, depicting the activities on the beach. The fishing village Scheveningen became an important source of inspiration to artists like H.W. Mesdag, B.J. Blommers, Anton Mauve and Philip Sadée.
The Hague School introduced a new way of landscape painting. As one of the very first Dutch artists, Willem Roelofs professed a daring, bold style of painting, based on the direct observation of nature. He was a passionate advocate of plein air painting and rendered a completely open air feeling to his pictures, preserving the freshness he had experienced on the spot. According to Roelofs one should feel part of a picture, as though one were outdoors, breathing in fresh air. This was a goal many Hague School artists sought to attain. 'Whenever I see a nice spot, a beautiful beach, waterway or sky, I become one with nature', J.H. Weissenbruch once wrote. Based on the spacious Dutch polder landscape, Weissenbruch realised a breadth of execution that renders a timeless quality to his pictures. Forms are consciously kept simple, colours subdued (without eschewing sparkling details), binding it all together into a translucent harmony like looking over the shoulder of the artist.
The Hague School in no way restricted itself to landscape painting. One of the key members, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, specialised in seascapes. His unbiased depiction of the sea, straight from nature, was a completely new phenomenon. From a room overlooking the beach of Scheveningen he painted the sea in all her aspects, from quiet serenity to wild fury. Mesdag became most famous for his depictions of departing and arriving fishing boats (so-called bomschuiten), a subject that was also tackled by B.J. Blommers, Anton Mauve and Jacob Maris. Mesdag scored great international successes with his seascapes and became one of the best selling artists of his day. Up to this day his pioneering role remains unchallenged.
The fishing genre was a subject that was also favoured by Jozef Israels, the nestor of the Hague School. He depicted the life of the fishermen, ranging from beach scenes (fisherwomen awaiting the return of the fishermen) to sober interior scenes with a strong poetic content. Sometimes his interpretation of the harsh life of the fishermen was not entirely free from sentimentality, but in general his work impresses by honest human feelings.
Completely different from all this are the architectural pictures of the Hague born Johannes Bosboom, whose church interiors were rooted in a seventeenth century tradition. Starting his career in a Romantic fashion, Bosboom adopted a loose and atmospheric style of painting towards the end of his career, resulting in his best pictures.
If you love the typical Dutch landscape and art at the same time you must have a weak spot in your heart for the Hague School. Many of the works of art of the above mentioned artists are well represented in the collection of R POLAK GALLERY. In case you make an appointment you can come and see them yourself.