Two Museums

In the Mauritshuis at the Hague (den Haag or 's-Gravenhage (Du); la Haye (F); laHaya (S): l'Aia (I); der Haag (G)), the paintings are marked only with the names of their painters and the dates on their frames. The more important ones in each room can be identified by reference to cardboard-backed printed sheets in Dutch, English, German and French, which give their titles, small photographed reproductions and brief useful analyses, which are pleasingly closely translated from the Dutch. (An interesting 'howler' was the translation of deugdzamheid (Tugendhaftigkeit (G); Vertu (F)) as 'virtuosity' (from 'virtuoso') instead of 'virtue' or 'virtuousness'.)

I think this is a good translation service, superior to the usual monolingual and bilingual systems, which should be a thing of the past, but it is a pity that the remaining paintings cannot at least have their titles translated at the bottom of the sheets. (Some of the finest Dutch paintings are hung in this museum, such as the Vermeer 'Head of a young girl'.)

At the Stedelijk Museum of 19th and 20th Century art in Amsterdam, all paintings have brief details in Dutch and English only, which is regrettable, particularly in the case of the 'third country' paintings, but which is the way things are going in a country where shop-window signs are in English as often as in Dutch.

Peter Newmark (1993) Paragraphs on Translation, Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, p. 111.