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Dutch Masters honoured in The Hague’s Painters District

Reproductions enhance street signs

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

THE HAGUE - Some of the street signs in the city’s blue-collar neighbourhood ‘Schilderwijk’ have been enhanced with reproductions on metal of the most famous works of the Dutch painters after whom streets were named. Among the Dutch masters so honoured are Johannes Vermeer, Carel Fabritius, Jacob van Ruysdael and Meindert Hobbema.

The sign for the Vermeerstraat features the painter’s famed ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring,’ now even more widely known for an American film by that title. The signs in the Fabritiusstraat are embellished with the well-known painting ‘Goldfinch.’

Most of the houses in this historic district were built some 150 years ago. The district is located just southeast of the city’s core, and is quite different from a second Painters Neighbourhood in the northwest corner of The Hague, which borders the outskirts of affluent Wassenaar. There, streets were primarily named after 19th century Dutch painters of the so-called The Hague School, such as Weissenbruch and Jozef Israels.

In recent years, the buildings in the Schilderwijk have been undergoing extensive renovations, to upgrade otherwise inadequate amenities and combat a general decay of the cramped homes and apartments. Prior to the renovations, the district increasingly had become a source of irritation for the city, with per capita income levels among the lowest in the country. Trouble always brewed - and sometimes boiled over - in the neighbourhood, which became known for its population density and excessive crime rate.

Since the early 1990s, the district’s social structure has been rebuilt, in large part due to new cooperation between citizens and police, which resulted in a dramatic decrease in the crime rate. Other improvements benefiting the area clean-up include the opening of a neighbourhood museum, and of restaurants and shops. A process of gentrification still is developing in a district where the huge majority of the population is made up of immigrants.