Description of Rembrandt’s painting “Night Watch”, 1642

Description of Rembrandt’s painting “Night Watch”, 1642
Description of Rembrandt's painting “Night Watch”, 1642 - 1

  • Posted by Rembrandt
  • Museum: Reyksmuseum
  • Year: 1642

Description of the picture :

Night Watch – Rembrandt. 1642. Oil on canvas. 363×437

   A company of militias goes camping. The musketeers set in motion, encouraged by the drum roll that frightened the street dog: the banner unfolds, the weapon is put on alert. Acute peaks sighed, the militia is ready to go into battle. Among soldiers are people of different ages, social status, and income levels. All are united by a patriotic impulse.

   Carefully written faces of the heroes of the monumental canvas create a sense of credibility and complete realism of what is happening. Fulfilling the usual order for that time, involving the creation of a static group portrait, the author destroys the boundaries of the genre. For him, it is important not only the external similarity of the heroes, but also the internal mood of each of them. The canvas can be studied for several months, opening up new connections, the relationship of heroes. Full of work and riddles.

   Hundreds of versions put forward art historians regarding the presence in the picture of a little girl with angelic appearance and military attributes in clothes. Most likely, the author needed a bright figure to balance the color composition, and this can also be a symbolic image of the mascot of the militias. It is known that the semantic load of the picture did not appeal to customers, at first they even refused to pay for the order, and when they paid, they cut the canvas barbarously to place it in the hall for feasts and meetings.

   Despite the complexity of the content, the picture is not without partiality and solemnity. The musketeers are not just ready for battle, they seem to pose as an artist, putting themselves in full order. The scenery is the triumphal arch: on the one hand, recalling the past victories, on the other hand, anticipating the coming glorious victory.

   By concentrating the light on the faces and hands of the depicted soldiers (one of the author’s favorite tricks), the master seeks the depth of the image of characters and destinies.

   The three main colors determine the color of the picture: golden yellow, red and black. The talented interaction of these colors gives the work energy, the illusion of movement and drama.

   It is difficult to assume what the light really was like in the work, the soot of sebaceous candles over three centuries covered the work with a layer of soot, and restoration could not completely eliminate this raid. The viewer can only guess what the picture looked like at the time of its presentation to the customer.

   Today, this work has a whole hall of the museum. Young Dutch people come here in whole classes to listen to the story of creating the greatest masterpiece of their brilliant countryman.