Completed in 1642, at the peak of the Dutch Golden Age, The Night Watch is one of the most famous paintings by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn. It depicts a city guard moving out, led by Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch. For much of its existence, the painting was coated with a dark varnish which gave the incorrect impression that it depicted a night scene, leading to the name Night Watch. This varnish was removed only in the 1940s. The painting is on display in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A high resolution image of the Night Watch can be found.
ORIGINAL TITLE: "Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch"
ARTIST: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Having achieved youthful success as a portrait painter, his later years were marked by personal tragedy and financial hardship. Yet his drawings and paintings were popular throughout his lifetime, his reputation as an artist remained high and for twenty years he taught nearly every important Dutch painter. Rembrandt's greatest creative triumphs are exemplified especially in his portraits of his contemporaries, self-portraits and illustrations of scenes from the Bible. The self-portraits form a unique and intimate biography, in which the artist surveyed himself without vanity and with the utmost sincerity.
The Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history generally spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence. The new Dutch Republic was the most prosperous nation in Europe, and led European trade, science, and art. The northern Netherlandish provinces that made up the new state had traditionally been less important artistic centres than cities in Flanders in the south, and the upheavals and large-scale transfers of population of the war, and the sharp break with the old monarchist and Catholic cultural traditions, meant that Dutch art needed to reinvent itself entirely, a task in which it was very largely successful.
Although Dutch painting of the Golden Age comes in the general European period of Baroque painting, and often shows many of its characteristics, most lacks the idealization and love of splendour typical of much Baroque work, including that of neighbouring Flanders. Most work, including that for which the period is best known, reflects the traditions of detailed realism inherited from Early Netherlandish painting.
A distinctive feature of the period is the proliferation of distinct genres of paintings, with the majority of artists producing the bulk of their work within one of these. The full development of this specialization is seen from the late 1620s, and the period from then until the French invasion of 1672 is the core of Golden Age painting.
Famous Painting Series
# 8 - Rembrandt's Night Watch