Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (De Nachtwacht) is currently being replicated at the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam-the Netherlands). The painting will be recreated true to accurate size and therefore will match the original, which is famous for its colossal size. Through this project, which started on 8 April 2021, the team of specialists from the AVROTR0S TV program ‘The Secret of the Master’ hopes to discover how the world-famous painting was originally created. The replication is being made in the Rijksmuseum opposite the real piece itself.
Additionally, the original, officially titled ‘The company of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburgh is getting ready to march out‘ is being restored and examined with the latest techniques, which will provide many new details about and insight into the work’s genesis.
“The research provides the impetus to put ourselves in Rembrandt’s shoes and recreate his painting techniques and reconstruct materials,” says the broadcaster.
The team creating the replication and conducting the restoration consists of a researcher, an artist, a science historian, a materials expert and a conservator. The process involves the team analysing the original in detail and thereafter determining relevant aspects involved in creating the painting, from how to make the pigments and oils to how to mimic certain painting techniques. The Night Watch has been treated and restored at least 25 times. In 2018, Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits announced a new restoration. “We are constantly monitoring the condition of The Night Watch. We have seen that in recent years a light haze has appeared on the underside.”
The paint used in the 1976 restoration was also found to be discoloured and the varnish had yellowed. In addition to the long series of restorations, the painting itself has endured even more. For example, during World War II it lay rolled up for five years. All of this history will be included in the recreated painting.
The team will even go so far as to cut a piece off the recreated version. After all, this is what happened to the original when it had to fit in a different space. The team know what the missing pieces looked like thanks to an early copy of the original created by Gerrit Lundens.