The Night Watch

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Behind them, the company's colours are carried by the ensign, Jan Visscher Cornelissen. The figures are almost life-size.


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Rembrandt has displayed the traditional emblem of the arquebusiers in a natural way, with the woman in the background carrying the main symbols. She is a kind of mascot herself; the claws of a dead chicken on her belt represent the clauweniers arquebusiers , the pistol behind the chicken represents clover and she is holding the militia's goblet. The man in front of her is wearing a helmet with an oak leaf, a traditional motif of the arquebusiers.

Time to revisit Rembrandt's The Night Watch, a glowing symbol of democracy

The dead chicken is also meant to represent a defeated adversary. The colour yellow is often associated with victory. For much of its existence, the painting was coated with a dark varnish, which gave the incorrect impression that it depicted a night scene, leading to the name by which it is now commonly known. This varnish was removed only in the s. In , upon its removal from the Kloveniersdoelen to the Amsterdam Town Hall, the painting was trimmed on all four sides.

This was done, presumably, to fit the painting between two columns and was a common practice before the 19th century. This alteration resulted in the loss of two characters on the left side of the painting, the top of the arch, the balustrade, and the edge of the step. This balustrade and step were key visual tools used by Rembrandt to give the painting a forward motion. A 17th-century copy of the painting by Gerrit Lundens at the National Gallery, London shows the original composition.

The painting was commissioned around by Captain Banning Cocq and seventeen members of his Kloveniers civic militia guards. Rembrandt was paid 1, guilders for the painting each person paid one hundred , a large sum at the time.

Dutch schoolchildren 'must visit Rembrandt and parliament'

This was one of a series of seven similar paintings of the militiamen Dutch: Schuttersstuk commissioned during that time from various artists. The painting was commissioned to hang in the banquet hall of the newly built Kloveniersdoelen Musketeers' Meeting Hall in Amsterdam. Some have suggested that the occasion for Rembrandt's commission and the series of other commissions given to other artists was the visit of the French queen, Marie de Medici , in Even though she was escaping from her exile from France ordered by her son Louis XIII , the queen's arrival was met with great pageantry.


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  • There is some academic discussion as to where Rembrandt actually executed the painting. It is too large to have been completed in his studio in his house modern address Jodenbreestraat 4, NK Amsterdam. In city records of the period he applied to build a "summer kitchen" on the back of his house. The dimensions of this structure would have accommodated the painting over the three years it took him to paint it. Another candidate is in an adjacent church and a third possibility is actually on site.

    Rembrandt, The Night Watch

    This structure currently houses the Doelen Hotel. In , the painting was moved to the Amsterdam Town Hall, for which it was altered.

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    When Napoleon occupied the Netherlands, the Town Hall became the Palace on the Dam and the magistrates moved the painting to the Trippenhuis of the family Trip. Napoleon ordered it returned, but after the occupation ended in , the painting again moved to the Trippenhuis , which now housed the Dutch Academy of Sciences. It remained there until it moved to the new Rijksmuseum when its building was finished in The canvas was detached from its frame and rolled around a cylinder.

    The rolled painting was stored for four years in a special safe that was built to protect many works of art in the underground caves of Maastricht, Netherlands. On 11 December , The Night Watch was moved to a temporary location, due to a major refurbishment of the Rijksmuseum. Only then will the team make a plan, determining precisely how to proceed with the restoration.

    It inspired my curiosity in the creative process, in how a work of art is born. But when the conservators were working it was hidden behind a curtain.

    The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn

    Hundreds of experts, including from the Rijksmuseum and the Delft University of Technology and elsewhere around the world, will be involved. The project is not comparable in scale to the vast restoration project to restore the Sistine Chapel, which took place between and Neither is it the first public restoration project.

    But it is believed to be the largest and most elaborate public restoration project ever undertaken. Dibbits said conservators and restorers were clamouring to work on the project and insisted that they would not shy away from public scrutiny if criticisms or comments over the progress of the restoration work were forthcoming. It is striking for its size — over 3. The restoration process — by far the most elaborate of the 25 treatments the painting has received in its lifetime — is due to begin in July

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