Rembrandt, “Night Watch” – a description of the painting, 1642

Description of the picture:

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

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

   The carefully written faces of the heroes of the monumental canvas create a feeling of authenticity 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 characters, but also the internal mood of each of them. The canvas can be studied for several months, opening up new connections, relationships between heroes. Full of work and puzzles.

   Hundreds of versions are put forward by art historians regarding the presence in the picture of a little girl with an angelic appearance and military attributes in clothes. Most likely, the author needed a bright figure to balance the color composition, it can also be a symbolic image of the militia mascot. 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 barbarously cut the canvas to place it in the hall for feasts and meetings.

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

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

   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 imagine what the light in the work really was, the soot of greasy candles over the course of three centuries covered the work with a layer of soot, and the 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, the whole hall of the museum is reserved for this work. Young Dutchmen come here in whole classes to listen to the story of the creation of the greatest masterpiece of their ingenious countryman.

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