Panorama Mesdag with paintings by Louis Apol on Nova Zembla

Louis Apol on Nova Zembla: bitter cold, polar bears and the northern lights in Panorama Mesdag. The opening takes place on 17 October and is open to the public from 19 October 2019 to 1 March 2020.

 Panorama Mesdag brings an adventurous expedition to Nova Zembla, portrayed by nineteenth-century artist Louis Apol. It is the first time since 1955 that so many “travel works” can be seen together. In 1880, the Hague artist Louis Apol (1850-1936) took part in a scientific expedition to Nova Zembla. He spent four months on board the polar schooner Willem Barents and made a spectacular image report. The journey inspired him for the rest of his life. To be seen from October 19 to March 1, 2020.

Louis Apol
Apol was the best known painter of winter landscapes of his time. The trip to Nova Zembla offered him the ultimate opportunity to study and visualize the most extraordinary ice formations and desolate, snow-covered landscapes very closely. From the ship he could capture beautiful reflections of light on ice and snow.

Unique image report

With the exhibition Louis Apol on Nova Zembla, the Panorama Mesdag museum shows a selection of unique pencil drawings, sketches and watercolors that Apol made during this adventurous journey.

Through the eyes of this unusual crew member, the visitor experiences the adventurous expedition to Nova Zembla; a unique insight into the life aboard the pole schooner and into the working process of the artist. Attention is also paid to the special animals, people and natural phenomena that he encountered along the way.

“Apol draws and sketches everywhere; even on the hunt he does not fail to take his sketchbook with him. ”


The theme matches the nineteenth-century character of the museum. Just like the founder of the Panorama Mesdag museum, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Apol belonged to the Haagse School and painted the Dutch landscape in a loose brushstroke, focusing on the representation of light and atmosphere. In 1896, the journey inspired Apol to create a panorama painting. Fifteen years earlier, Mesdag had painted his Panorama of Scheveningen. Apol and Mesdag thus became direct competitors of each other. Apols panorama was successfully exhibited for years in the Panorama building in Amsterdam.

Minke Schat, director Panorama Mesdag: “The passion and admiration for the landscape is full of his images, Apol’s enthusiasm is still contagious today. At the same time, the subject is surprisingly topical: the far-reaching consequences of climate change in the Arctic unfortunately make it impossible for today’s travelers to relive Apol’s experiences. That forces us to think and connects the present and the past. ”

Panorama Nova Zembla
The exhibition also pays attention to the panorama painting that Apol made in 1896 based on his Nova Zembla sketches. The panorama disappeared from the radar around 1930. What happened to this immense canvas?  See more on the website