It has been called the ‘altarpiece’ of the Rijksmuseum, that fabulous treasure-trove of European art that is rivaled only by the Louvre. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch is indeed so precious to the institution that the recent decade-long refurbishment is said to have been designed around the painting, as it retains its original location beside its own trapdoor – for ease of evacuation in case of fire. As before, visitors approach the painting from the palatial entrance hall, past the Gallery of Honor – that star-studded collection of 17th century Dutch art. Without doubt The Night Watch is a national treasure, an essential part of Dutch history, and a key cultural artifact in the continuous reproduction and reinterpretation of nationality and national community.
Rembrandt’s canvas is a group portrait of a local militia, a common sight amidst Dutch urban life following their independence from the Spanish empire. Seeking to consolidate their republic, this stirring canvas demonstrates the individuality of the common man as the most important agent of change and national unity. Rather than simply displaying a figurative reproduction of a group of officers, Rembrandt captures a vivid array of gestures, postures, and expressions, featuring the whole gamut of militia characters from the vainglorious to the humble and austere. The enigmatic figure of the little girl seemingly lit from the heavens adds a further mysteriously tint. As does the fact that each of the soldiers are looking a different way, each poised in a position of readiness that would have them darting in all manner of different directions.
But therein lays the magic of this truly remarkable painting. Rembrandt has rendered his subjects as a patchwork band all huddled together surrounded by the encroaching darkness – they are vulnerable and standing in readiness against the unknown. Often said to be an archetypal image of democracy, acknowledging the flaws and differences of this group of individuals who defend their nation against the night.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of The NightWatch, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of The NightWatch that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.