What exactly is all the fuss about? Conservation may well make the picture look rather less nocturnal than it does now, though I doubt whether anyone will ever call it The Morning Watch. Civic militias had been formed in cities such as Amsterdam from the midth century onwards, largely in defence against Spain, the great enemy from without.
In the event, the long Dutch war of independence against the Spanish was fought without the involvement of the civic guards, so the duties and character of militia companies changed accordingly: they guarded city gates, put out blazes and policed the streets. Membership was honorific, and their main activity was synchronised boozing. The heroes stand gathered.
Banners are unfurled, muskets are loaded, spears and halberds are raised to the sky, all to the sound of a gunshot and the beat of a drum. Now Frans Banninck Cocq and his trusty lieutenant give the order to advance. At the double! The Spanish are coming! So the hero holds the fate of the city in his hand, as he signals the advance to his troops.
How flattered the militiamen must have felt. No one knows exactly how much they paid Rembrandt for The Night Watch — each made his own contribution, according to his prominence in the composition — but the total was somewhere between 2, and 4, guilders: a quarter and three quarters of a million dollars, in modern money. It was the most Rembrandt ever got for a picture. They had never seen anything like this animated throng of figures, this drama of light and shade. The light is fat and even; the heads and bodies are neatly lined up; the eyes stare straight out at the viewer: the effect is utterly boring.
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I have my reservations about The Night Watch , although there is nothing I would change about it. The leader of the troop admittedly looks the part, being the very embodiment of martial resolve, but what of the men whom he is urging to battle? Details from The Night Watch : an old man staring at his musket.
A girl with a chicken, symbolising the Spirit of the Militia.
Rembrandt van Rijn - Night Watch | Britannica
Many look way too old — like the grey-haired gentleman staring at his musket as if befuddled by its mechanism — while most look blatantly unprepared. The more closely I look at it, the more it all seems like an amateur theatrical performance on the verge of going horribly wrong. One other detail fascinates me. Look to the back of the stage on which Rembrandt has set his creaking pantomime and you will see, just to the right of that slightly smug man in his second-hand helmet with the ill-fitting chinstrap, a half-hidden face truncated to a single twinkling eye and a sliver of bulbous nose.
Who is this interloper in the self-important ranks of the civic guard? None other than Rembrandt: he is even wearing his trademark beret. So there he is, the man himself, forever looking at us looking at his picture; and forever wondering, with a chuckle, how many of us will understand what he really meant. Sign up today. Christie's Online Magazine delivers our best features, videos, and auction news to your inbox every week. The same thing he meant, I think, by all of his work. Namely that, no matter how much we like to put on airs and graces, no matter how much we like to think of ourselves as playing our part in History with a capital H, no matter how much we like to pretend otherwise, we are all in the end just frail, fallible, weak and accident-prone beings: human beings, and none the worse for being reminded of it.
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You may also like Related content. In the middle of the painting, behind a man in green and a guard with a metal helm, you can spot a barely-there man. Only his eye and a beret are visible, but this guy is believed to be Rembrandt himself. Years after the creation of The Night Watch , in , the enormous painting was moved from Kloveniersdoelen to the Town Hall of Amsterdam. An unknown hand added a shield to the archway—the script on the shield contains the 18 names of the featured Kloveniers.
On January 13, , a down-and-out navy cook slashed The Night Watch with a knife, reportedly as a protest against his unemployment. A second knife attack occurred on September 14, , this time courtesy of a Dutch schoolmaster who believed destroying it was his divine mission. After that, the painting was put under permanent guard.
Nevertheless, an unemployed Dutchman sprayed concentrated sulfuric acid on the piece on April 6, Each time, restorations were able to repair the damage, with barely a battle scar remaining. In July the Rijksmuseum will launch the largest research and restoration project ever for The Night Watch.
This will happen live in the museum, and you can find more info about it here. The painting has been moved and is now on show in the Gallery of Honour. The Operation Night Watch will start with the detailed study necessary to determine the best treatment plan and will involve imaging techniques, high-resolution photography, and highly advanced computer analysis. The last time the painting was restored was in But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.
The Night Watch, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642
Sadly, since Thursday, 14th November , the gallery is closed until further notice. This is due to a failed attempt at a great art robbery. Namely audacious break-in on Wednesday It may seem like a limited and even narrow perspective with an artist as complex as Rembrandt, but what makes Artemisia Gentileschi — was the most accomplished female painter of the Italian Baroque. She specialized in Biblical scenes of strong women fulfilling their higher destinies.
Her most famous painting, Judith Slaying Holofernes, not only captures the drama and intensity of the subject, but it Allow me to start with a small disclosure: I am no graphic novel expert. It is And The Rokeby Venus is his only surviving nude, three others Subscribe to DailyArt Magazine newsletter Just enter your e-mail, and we'll let you know when there are interesting art history stories to read.
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It is one of the icons of Western art history. The most important: The Night Watch is not happening in the night.
The official title of the painting is much longer and complicated. The Night Watch after the knife attack. We love art history and we want to keep going with writing about it. Related Topics: featured. More in Baroque. To Top.