Rembrandt van Rijn, The Night Watch, 1642

This monumental painting was commissioned by Captain Banning Cocq (the one dressed in black with a red sash) and seventeen members of his civic militia guard in Amsterdam called the Kloveniers. Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch is dressed in yellow and stands beside the Captain; Rembrandt has painted the likenesses of the other members too. By 1642 the Kloveniers were no longer necessary for guarding the ramparts and their gatherings were largely social in nature. In this scene they appear to be marching down the street towards us viewers with the pomp and pageantry normally bestowed upon military heroes; however this group is probably just on their way to a shooting contest or a parade.
This painting is considered a Dutch national treasure and is the jewel in the crown of the Rijksmuseum’s displays. It will undergo restoration in the next coming months. The Rijksmuseum has even built a special glass room where museum visitors can watch the operation.

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