The 16th and 17th centuries were a period of rapid development in the Netherlands. International networks brought goods and ideas to the country by force or trade. Dutch society was radically changed. Calvinism spread from France, forcing Catholicism to retreat from view. Chinese porcelain was brought from the east, inspiring the industry of Delftware. This import of ideas and techniques paved the way for a strong culture of artisanry, in particular the painters who are known worldwide today.
Whilst the Netherlands is now welcoming of public Catholic worship, tensions with members of other minority religions still exist. Delftware may still be produced, yet more as a tourist attraction rather than an industry. The Netherlands still creates internationally renowned artists, but rarely is their media paint. This raises the same questions asked for hundreds of years.
If tolerance of religion was key to Dutch prosperity, can we find it in today's streets? Would the artists' studio of Rembrandt and Vermeer be considered as a tool for gentrification today? Is Delftware still a part of the city's identity or just a tool for Delft's marketers? Where is the “other" in the smooth, Dutch city?