Rembrandt's Night Watch Company Parade, Amsterdam, 1638 | Peter Donkersloot
Night Watch company parade, Amsterdam, 1638
2018, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm
Peter Donkersloot used his imagination as he saw Amsterdam's most famous painter Rembrandt walking through town with some members of a militia company. All able-bodied men who, if the need arose, could be called upon to defend the city or put down riots. These Dutch civic militias were often made up of craft masters, shopkeepers, and dairy, herring or timber dealers. The officers were usually rich merchants, closely related to members of the city government.
Here the officers - fully equipped in ceremonial outfits - proudly promenade on their way to the Arquebusiers guild hall (Kloveniersdoelen) where the big group portrait they just commissioned at Rembrandt's studio, will prominently be displayed. It will remind them of their duties, demonstrate their social importance roles, and inspire future generations to also serve the community. The little dog on the bridge that Donkersloot painted, also takes part in the commissioned group portrait, as well as the girl. She is the company mascot.
Night Watch provenance
Because of Rembrandt's darkening varnish The officers and other members of the militia company of District II, under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch became later known as The Night Watch, and as one of the most famous paintings in the world. After its completion in 1642 it hung in the Kloveniersdoelen until 1715 when it was moved to the Town Hall. Since 1808 it is the high-light of the Rijksmuseum collection and now admired in the Gallery of Honor by more than 2.2 million visitors annually!
The Year of Rembrandt
In 2019, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the artist's death, we are invited to watch the restoration of The Night Watch at the museum and online. Before that, it will be the centerpiece of the Rijksmuseum's display (opening on February 15) of their entire collection of more than 400 works by Rembrandt.
With his painting Peter Donkersloot pays tribute to the great master: 'Rembrandt is famous for his penetrating and powerful portraiture, of both individuals and groups. This, together with his supreme painting skills, his atmospheric handling of light, and his mastery of chiaroscuro, make him the pride of this city and one of the best painters of all times'.