The Night Watch; Rembrandt (1642)


Known to be one of the greatest portrait paintings of the 17th century Baroque era, The Night Watch was created in Amsterdam by Rembrandt at the height of his career. The Night Watch was originally called The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, a group portrait of a militia company intended for the Great Room of the Kloveniersdoelen (the Musketeers Assembly Hall). Its new and popular but misleading title was given in the late 18th-century based on an incorrect hunch that it depicted a “nocturnal scene.” In fact, however, the painting’s lighting was caused by premature darkening of its multi-layered varnish. Unlike other Baroque portraits of militia companies, which usually portrayed members lined up in neat rows or at banquets, Rembrandt shows a fully equipped militia company. The original canvas, 12×14 feet, was trimmed significantly (over 60 centimeters) during its move to London’s Town Hall in 1715. The painting now rests in Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

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