“Hours, days, months, years fly like a shadow”. That is the start of a song that the generations of my parents and grandparents sang on New Year’s Eve. And in certain circles it might still be sung every year. We also have a saying in Dutch: “De tijd gaat snel, gebruik haar wel” (which translates into “Time goes fast, use it well”). In The Hague you are reminded of this wisdom in several places.
On the corner of the Lange Vijverberg is an apartment complex with a restaurant on the ground floor. A sundial hangs on the façade with the profound text “Tyd verglydt”, which means: “Time flies”
A place where we are particularly aware of our finitude is of course a cemetery. Despite this confrontation with mortality, I like to visit the beautiful cemeteries that we have in The Hague. They are full of history and are green oases of peace and quiet in our busy city.
If you pass the entrance of the General Cemetery on Kerkhoflaan, you will see an hourglass — a common symbol for time.
An hourglass can also be found in the gate of Ter Navolging cemetery on Duinstraat in Scheveningen.
Until our digital age, watchmakers were important contributors to our ability to know the time.
The watchmaker J.H. Kleijn once had his shop at Prinsestraat 59. This business has been gone for a while, but the plaque on Kleijn’s building can still be admired. This tells a whole story about time. Around a dial we see the profile of father time, again the hourglass and the wings that tell us that time flies.
From 1909 to about 1990 watchmaker and jeweller Van Hattum could be found on Noordeinde 15. He decorated his shop facade with a tile panel produced by the Rozenburg company. Here too we see the hourglass and the wings.
If you want to sell life insurance policies, you must of course make your potential customers aware of the finitude of their existence. The insurance company “De Nederlanden van 1845” commissioned Lambertus Zijl to make sculptures to illustrate this finitude. These images adorn the building designed by Berlage that is to be found on Kerkplein. The sculpture on the front is quite confronting, being a vivid illustration of the expression “looking death in the eye”.
And also on this building you can find the hourglass with wings. I will not tell where, as an assignment for the reader to have a good look and use his / her eyes!
Are you curious about more interesting details that The Hague hides from you: let me show you around with your family, friends or colleagues around the theme “Look up!”