In the 1910s the Stadsteekeninstituut was in the doldrums – due in part to Graafland's ailing health and too few students enrolling. During that period, young workers preferred to attend the lessons of designer, drawing tutor and dialect author Fons Olterdissen at the Patronaatsschool: an institution founded in the mid-19th century by the cleric Rutten and the first of its kind to provide an education for workers’ children and young workers in industrial Maastricht. Olterdissen died in 1923. His popularity was due in part to his ability to convey the city's history and soul to the people of Maastricht, in stories and plays.
The emphasis at Graafland's Sunday school on students’ professional careers may have been another factor in the Stadsteekeninstituut’s waning appeal. Slowly but surely, a thriving market emerged for Limburg artists that would later lead to friction between the Limburg Art Circle (which, as time went by, was becoming the preserve of amateur artists) and the Kunstenaarsvereeniging Limburg (Limburg artists association). It was not until the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool (Secondary School of Arts and Crafts) was founded, in 1926, that the process of professionalization began in earnest. In the 1930s, this programme was turning out artists who were gaining recognition beyond Limburg. From the early 1920s onwards, the Prix de Rome was won by several Limburg artists, among them Charles Eyck and Charles Vos (neither of whom, incidentally, trained in Maastricht) and Jan Hul. Jef Scheffers won the silver Prix de Rome.
The participation of Limburg artists in the World Fair in Paris and the major exhibition of Limburg Art at the Municipal Museum of The Hague in 1937 were further evidence of Limburg's success.
The founding of the Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool in October 1926 was partly the result of a nationwide development originating in the Quellinusschool, which was founded by architect Pierre Cuypers to train artisans who would be involved in building the Rijksmuseum. The Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool (the forerunner of the Rietveld Academie) was first established in 1924, as a result of the merger of the Quellinusschool with other craft-oriented schools and the programme for drawing drawing tutors.