Rembrandt′s ′The Night Watch′ undergoes public restoration | News | DW | 08.07.2019
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Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' undergoes public restoration

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has begun historic restoration work on Rembrandt's 17th-century masterpiece "The Night Watch." Curious visitors will be able to observe the entire process from behind a giant glass wall.

On Monday, experts at the Rijksmuseum got to work on the biggest-ever restoration of Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch.

The multimillion-euro makeover of the 1642 masterpiece is expected to take years.

The painting has undergone several restorations in the past. But this time, restorers will be working inside a specially designed glass chamber, allowing members of the public to watch. Their work will also be streamed live online.

"The Night Watch belongs to everyone," Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits told a press conference in Amsterdam. "We felt that the public has the right to see what happens to that painting."

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The work last underwent major restoration in 1975 after a man slashed it with a knife. Parts of the canvas have since started to fade.

Experts scan the surface of 'The Night Watch'

Researchers start scanning the surface of 'The Night Watch'

Painstaking process 

The museum's researchers will begin by scanning and photographing every inch of the massive painting, which measures 3.63 by 4.37 meters (11.9 feet x 14.3 feet) and weighs 337 kilograms (742 pounds).

"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," Dibbits said.

"We don't know much about how Rembrandt made this painting," Dibbits added. "And now we hope to discover more."

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Thousands of separate high-resolution photos taken from every angle will be merged to create one digital snapshot. Before embarking on the restoration, researchers will also use X-ray technology to analyze each layer.

Watch video 04:19

The Dutch Golden Age

Golden Age master

Rembrandt is considered the greatest artist to emerge from the Dutch Golden Age of painting. Now one of his most famous works, The Night Watch was commissioned as a group portrait of an Amsterdam city militia.

Read moreRembrandt collector counteracts isolationism with art

More than 2 million people visit the Rijksmuseum, which houses the world's largest collection of Rembrandt's works, each year.

nm/tj (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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