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Art / The Night Watch

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Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, also known as The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, but mostly known and most commonly referred to as The Night Watch (Dutch: De Nachtwacht), is a 1642 painting by Rembrandt van Rijn.

It belongs to the collection of the Amsterdam Museum but is prominently displayed in the Rijksmuseum as the best known painting in its collection and the most famous Dutch Golden Age painting.

Not to be confused with the Night's Watch or the Discworld novel Night Watch, which nonetheless uses the painting as inspiration for its cover.


The Night Watch provides examples of:

  • Bling of War: The militiamen the painting depicts all wear beautiful uniforms.
  • Chiaroscuro: Rembrandt made frequent use of scenes where people are shown in contrast between dark and light. Sometimes it only appeared to be this way. The Night Watch was nicknamed that way because of its dark varnish, which had people think it depicted a night scene. This varnish was removed only in the 1940s.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The only reason the painting is named The Night Watch has to do with the fact that it was covered with a dark varnish that gave the impression that the scene took place at night, while it originally doesn't.
  • Re-Cut: The painting was originally larger, as a 18th century copy shows. Upon its removal from the Kloveniersdoelen to the Amsterdam Town Hall, the painting was cut down on all four sides, presumably to fit it between two columns. It was sadly a common practice before the 19th century.


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