Internet masterpiece: Rembrandt’s Night Watch facelift live streamed

Internet masterpiece: Rembrandt’s Night Watch facelift live streamed

July 9, 2019

Amsterdam: The Rijksmuseum has begun a £3 million ($5.3 million) restoration of the Rembrandt van Rijn painting The Night Watch yesterday – a task which will take at least 10 months and will be live-streamed so art lovers around the world can follow the project online.

The masterpiece, completed in 1642, was hoisted onto a special easel inside a giant transparent glass chamber on Monday.

Technicians and researchers check equipment set up inside a glass chamber as they begin to study Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ masterpiece, at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam on Monday.Credit:AP

A team of 20 experts will now analyse the painting for clues as to Rembrandt's methods, using macro X-ray fluorescence scanning and hyper spectral imaging to build up a detailed digital picture by merging 12,000 separate images.

"This is the first time that we can actually make a full body scan and that we can discover which pigments he used not only through making little samples but with scanning the entire surface," said the museum's general director, Taco Dibbits.

"We don't know much about how Rembrandt made this painting. And now we hope to discover more and really get a glimpse into the kitchen of the artist," he added.

The 1642 painting last underwent significant restoration 40 years ago after it was slashed by a knife-wielding man and is starting to show blanching in parts of the canvas. Some later retouches are starting to fade.

The works may also help solve a mystery around the painting's missing parts, the general director of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum Taco Dibbits said. In 1715, the masterpiece was moved from the civic guard headquarters at Kloveniersdoelen to the town hall – now the Royal Palace – and would not fit through the doors. So entire sections were cut from all sides, most notably a left-hand strip, where three figures were removed.

"That happens a lot in history because they were often meant to fit in panels and if one didn't, you'd just take the scissors to cut a part off," said Dibbits.

"It might be that these pieces of canvas were preserved and used for another painting. Who knows, maybe one day parts of the canvas will turn up."

More than 2 million people each year visit the Rijksmuseum, which has the world's largest collection of Rembrandt works. The Golden Age master is known for his innovative use of light and rebellious compositions.

The restoration project comes in a year that marks the 350th anniversary of the artist's death in 1669 and is part of a "Year of Rembrandt" at the museum.

Telegraph, London; AP

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