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nothing new; since 1910

Updated: Jan 17

After the death of his wife in March 1909, Mesdag decided to transfer his Painting "Panorama of Mesdag" to a family company. In 1879, their only child, Klaas, had died at the age of seven from diphtheria, leaving the Mesdag couple without descendants. Mesdag issued four shares to the children of his sister Ellegonda and the children of his brother Gilles (his brother Taco remained childless). Twenty-nine shares went to the children of Sientje's five married brothers and sisters. With this, Mesdag ensured the continuity of his Panorama.

The 33 shares are still held by the descendants of the original shareholders. The Board of Directors, responsible for the museum's policies, is chosen from the shareholders. The day-to-day management is currently entrusted to a director. Once a year, the owners of the Panorama gather for a shareholders' meeting.


This is probably the first time a piece of art is virtual cut up in pieces and got several owners.



Hendrik Mesdag designed a unique ownership structure for Panorama Mesdag. For a hundred years, a family company has managed Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. In 1910, the painter Hendrik Willem Mesdag (1831-1915) gifted his masterpiece to 33 nephews and nieces by issuing shares. Their task was to ensure the operation and public accessibility. What does this unique family structure mean for the family and the museum? Two descendants of the original shareholders share their perspective.

by:

Ceciel Huitema and Trudy Maingay-Mesdag:



Ceciel Huitema and Trudy Maingay-Mesdag share the history of the museum and their family. Trudy, a great-granddaughter of Gilles Mesdag, emphasizes the importance of family for Mesdag and his wife, highlighting their strong connections with relatives like Samuel van Houten and his wife. The Mesdag couple's good relationship with their niece Barbara van Houten, who took over the artistic leadership after Mesdag's death, is also mentioned.

Frans Baud and Trudy Maingay-Mesdag talk about their personal connections to the museum. Trudy, despite receiving her share at a young age, emphasizes the growing importance of managing the Panorama in her life. Frans, a descendant from the Van Houten family, discusses his early involvement with the Panorama and passing the ownership to the next generation.

Family Bonds:

The unique bond among shareholders, stemming from two different families, is challenging to define. Despite this, they share a common, special, and unique possession. Frans Baud and Trudy Maingay-Mesdag stress the development of a friendly bond among shareholders due to their shared responsibility. The family, consisting of about two hundred people, has witnessed changes over time, and maintaining a connection with the museum becomes challenging.

Challenges and Future:

The financial aspect is discussed, highlighting the lack of a fund left by Mesdag for the Panorama's maintenance. While the family has been able to manage the Panorama for a hundred years, financial challenges arise, and fundraising efforts become crucial. The creation of a foundation helps gather funds from family members to support the museum's ongoing projects.

Frans Baud and Trudy Maingay-Mesdag express wonder at the family's ability to sustain the Panorama for a century, considering the difficulties faced, including a decline in visitors. They discuss the debates within the Board of Directors about changing the management form to a foundation for easier access to subsidies and sponsorships.

The family's commitment to preserving the Panorama remains strong, with a belief that, in family hands, it has the best chances of survival. The discussion about the Panorama's fate if it had not been left to a family N.V. brings forth the idea that, without family involvement, it might have faced neglect or disintegration, much like many other panoramas. The family acknowledges the challenges but expresses a deep connection to the responsibility handed down by Mesdag to preserve the Panorama for future generations.





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