Over 120 meters of life-like painting instantly transports visitors to a day at the sea-side Scheveningen village on the North Sea.
Painted by Hendrik Willem Mesdag, best known for his marine images of ships at sea, the panorama showcases his prodigious talents in capturing seascapes on an enormous scale. When the panorama opened in 1881 it was just the latest in a trend of popular immersive entertainments which had gained popularity in the Victorian period – panoramas in London had been drawing thousands of visitors for a decade. Unfortunately, this masterpiece came just as that popularity was waning, and the panorama went bust in 1886. Mesdag purchased it himself, and it is due to his perseverance that we can still visit this Dutch national treasure today.
The Mesdag Panorama is 14 meters high and 120 meters long, making it the largest of the Victorian panoramas left still installed in its original location.
Although few full-scale panoramas of the hundreds that once lured crowds around the world still exist, there are a few notable survivors: In Wroclaw, Poland, the enormous 120-year-old Raclawice Panorama lets you step into the middle of the 1794 Battle of Racławice. In Istanbul, Turkey, the Panorama 1453 Museum recreates the epic fall of Constantinople. A more modern example in Damascas, Syria, the October War Panorama is dedicated to scenes from the 1973 October War between Israel, Egypt, and Syria.