Women Artists – Art on View
Suze Robertson: Dedicated, Individualistic, Modern
Museum Panorama Mesdag
The Hague, Netherlands
September 23, 2022–March 5, 2023
Around the world, scholars are busy recovering or revisiting the often forgotten stories of women artists. A fine example of such an exhibition is one this season at the Museum Panorama Mesdag in The Hague, devoted to the Dutch artist Suze Robertson (1855–1922) and timed to mark the centenary of her death. On view soon will be more than 80 paintings and drawings, many borrowed from private collections, constituting the first investigation of her art in over 40 years and certainly the largest such show ever mounted.
Robertson was born and died in The Hague, and her most significant period of study occurred in the city’s Royal Academy of Art. She made her name depicting working-class people, especially agricultural laborers and their families, indoors or on the farm. Many visitors will be reminded of Vincent van Gogh’s earlier work, and indeed there is reason to think the two artists were aware of each other, given the small size of the Dutch art scene then and the fact that Van Gogh was only two years older.
The museum has subtitled its exhibition “Dedicated, Individualistic, Modern” to underscore the “all-in” aspect of Robertson’s practice. It probably would have been easier for her, as a woman, to make pretty art, but instead she tackled tough subjects in a range of media including oils, pastels, and watercolors. Robertson was friendly with, and collected by, the museum’s wealthy founders, Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife, Sientje Mesdagvan Houten, who surely would have been pleased that the institution bearing their name has also produced a groundbreaking catalogue filled with new research on this overlooked artist.
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