It’s day thirteen of the Culture Tourist Art Blogmas. And I’m sharing one of the most famous artworks located in Europe with you, Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch.
Art Blogmas 2021
Rembrandt van Rijn: The Night Watch
Rembrandt van Rijn worked for three long years on this painting. It was commissioned by the Civic Guards of Amsterdam for their newly built headquarters in the city centre.
These group portraits were quite common in the Netherlands during the 17th century. However, Rembrandt painted it in a completely new way. Their goal was to show the images of the guild or militia members.
But, for Rembrandt, the composition was much more important. That’s why we see the real situation, the civic guards of Amsterdam are just about to go on their march around the city. However, that’s the reason we can’t see all the group members very well. Especially those standing in the back.
The way Rembrandt uses light on it makes this painting so unique. With the light, he highlights important details in the picture. He’s stressing even more that the two men in front are the group leaders. But, he’s also putting the light on a little girl that obviously doesn’t belong to the group. However, with a chicken on her belt, she’s representing the group’s symbol – claws.
Her face is also interesting. Obviously, that’s not a face of a little girl but of a grown-up woman. By comparing it with his wife Saskia’s portraits, we know that’s her. The year when he finished The Night Watch, 1642, is the year when his young wife Saskia died (she was only thirty years old). However, Rembrandt has also included his self-portrait in the painting. You can see him in the back peaking behind the shoulder of the man holding the flag.
Initially, the painting was larger than it is today. A few decades after it was made, The Night Watch was transferred to Amsterdam’s City Hall (today’s Royal Palace on the Dam Square). But, the wall on which they wanted to put it was too small for the painting. So, instead of just removing it and placing it on a more suitable wall, they cut the picture a bit to fit it in. Because of that, we are missing two men in the left part of the painting initially there.
There are, of course, many other interesting details on it. But, that should be a topic of a completely new post.
Watch video below to see more of Rijksmuseum’s highlights:
If you don’t want to miss other paintings I will share with you in this year’s Art Blogmas, be sure to check in here tomorrow at 7:30. Or, follow along on the Culture Tourist Facebook page and Instagram profile.