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The night watch, or The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch

Painting, 1642, 379.5×453.5 cm

Description of the artwork «The night watch, or The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch»

Famous Rembrandt "Night watch" in its history, has received a lot of excellent status. It was called:

– the most mysterious painting in the history is not clear, neither the vision of the author (although the order was clear, traditional genre and surprises were no signs), nor the presence of the hardly explainable "extra" characters and "suspicious" characters, and much more;

the most paradoxical: Rembrandt had to write company Amsterdam the shooters, but instead of strict military discipline portrayed a truly unimaginable chaos; and the fact that for several centuries was perceived as the night, unexpectedly appeared by day;

– the suffering of those paintings, which, despite the neglect during storage or deliberate vandalism, yet survived until our days: not only is the soot changed the original color "Night watch" and misled in relation to time of day, so the canvas was cut horizontally and vertically, suffered from displacement and inept restorations, and in 1990-m to year insane visitor of the Rijksmuseum splashed on the painting with acid. Agree, rarely a picture of the "lucky" to lose the original flavor, and a significant amount of the planned by the artist dimensions, and part of the paint layer. And for all that remain a masterpiece, an object of pilgrimage, feeding the literary and film industry in General, continue to prove their paradoxical reputation;

– the most famous and biggest (379,5 cm x 453,5 cm!) Rembrandt – so "Night watch" is indicated on the website of the Rijksmuseum, which now is stored;

most Baroque painting in history, the true apotheosis of the Baroque style in mood, energy, movement;

as a result, the most contagious for the viewer, almost interactive: according to many of those who found themselves face to face with the characters of "Night watch" (a written and hung it so that there are no other options but to be face to face, and no) if you want to stay in front of the painting, then after some time it becomes difficult to overcome the desire to be a part of this noisy crowd, beat the drum, whistle, tap his feet, let loose with a booming laugh, waving pikes and in addition give a couple of stray shots up of the arquebus;

and even the overrated – here opinions part of customers, and some critics agree: something clever and capricious Mr. van Rijn was clever.

For the viewer, separated from the establishment of "Night watch" almost four centuries, confusion and questions continue to be layered: why do arrows need a giant group portrait? And what the city of Amsterdam – as many Amateur shooters? Why they are dressed, armed, and acting on the principle "who in what is ready"? Why elegant couple in the foreground are deliberately separated from the rest of the characters? Why in parallel with the Rembrandt of the Amsterdam rifle companies, wrote five more artists? Why do some characters in the movie demanded a refund for her money, because the General opinion about the work of Rembrandt was quite encouraging? Among shooters making a creepy girl in a Golden gown? Why is she the face of the artist's wife, and on her belt hangs a chicken and a bird's claw?..

Let us try, consistently seeking professional and Amateur (and is!) rembrandtian answers, to penetrate not only the atmosphere of Amsterdam in the middle of the XVI century, but in the creative cuisine of Rembrandt, where he matured and was shaped by such unpredictable things as "Night watch". We will, however, be prepared that many of the questions "correct" answer exists.

Who are the hands-arquebusiers and why they are so valued in the Netherlands?


Imagine the Netherlands ("low lying land") the first half of the XVI century. More recently, they were bleeding under the rule of the Spanish Habsburgs, the stake of the Catholic Inquisition burned the Calvinist preachers, and Haarlem, Amsterdam and Leiden heroically resisted a Spanish siege, suffering unusual for these very rich and developed cities of the famine and even daring to go to extreme measures to open sea sluices and flood part of the territory, but to defend the independence. Southern provinces, Flanders and Brabant, willingly surrendered to the Spanish crown. But the Northern province was a "tough nut": seven of them came together and took for himself the name of the largest of them – the Netherlands (another name for the newborn state, the Republic of the United provinces). Spain could no longer dictate to the Dutch how to live their lives: with whom to trade, with whom to enter into political alliances and how to Express their religiosity.

Of course, in the light of all the accomplished Netherlands the time of Rembrandt had experienced a few even euphoric rise of the national. Folk heroes of steel Dutch militia – men, who defended their cities. Rembrandt himself wrote in latnaya nechanice– they say he is, the son of the Leyden Miller, always ready to stand under the banner. The militia sang, about it legends. It seemed a miracle: the peaceful burghers, merchants, tanners, millers, druggists, greengrocers, clothiers at that horrible hour of the Motherland took up crossbows and halberds, had learned to shoot muskets and pistols arquebus (hence the name of arquebusiers) and cannonballs.

Those who know the military brotherhood, do not want to lose the sense of community and when you come the quieter times. Dutch militia continued in peace time to gather together their companies, transformed into people's police. They could "go out in patrols" to keep order in the city. They continued to be registered units, companies such commanders have the illusion of, say, happen that the Dutch city will again be someone to protect.

It is they – the heroes of Rembrandt's "Night watch".

What rifle company of such a huge collective portrait?


And this is just the consequence of the nationwide relationship to the arrows as national heroes. The Dutch like to wonder how to commemorate them, or rather our universal feat? And for this reason it was decided to construct a new building of the headquarters of the Guild of shooters with Grand rooms and elegant facade. The main hall of the Guild shooters with six tall Windows facing the Amstel river, was at that time the most spacious and presentable room in Amsterdam. There was the Queen – more suitable premises in the town was not. In the late 1630s – early 1640s high walls of the hall, it was decided to decorate a large-scale group portraits of the six rifle companies that they solemnly standing in the entourage of muskets, pikes, drums and flags, made a glory of unfading shooters.

For the work were invited 6 artists. In addition to the Rembrandt, it was his disciples and followers Govert Flinckand Jacob Bakkerand Nicholas Elias Piceno, German Joachim von Sandrartand the best specialist of Amsterdam in this genre Bartholomeus van der Helstwas talking about that he learned the formula of the group portrait.

In General, the Rembrandt was competing with anyone, and he certainly took the same van der Gelsta as a rival. The work was designed for a few years. The idea Rembrandt was extremely risky as all masters will be traditionally to build Riflemen in neat rows and prescribe in detail their costumes, regalia and flushed from the beer he planned to write something special, something no one had ever done before – a portrait of a company on the March. If the soldiers flocking from the streets in the high arched doorway and directed their commanders, rush somewhere on important matters – maybe just to protect the peace of the city, and can be again an advocate for the independence of the country.

Rembrandt clearly wanted the result not just lined up in a row of arquebusiers, frozen along the horizontal axis (because they will represent all the others!), but a play, a sort of "perpetual motion", where all the time something happens: someone brandishing lances, someone charges the gun, somebody accidentally fired it up and the dog at his feet from fright went hysterical barking, someone understands, and asks the other where his place in this building, someone hits the drum, and captain banning cocq opens his mouth and raises his hand to give his men some orders.

What is known of the characters of the first plan?


A list of the soldiers of the company of Frans banning Coca remained at the back of the picture, and now anyone interested can set up a correspondence between their names and faces in the picture, fans of "Night watch" even be a special table (although you need to consider that Rembrandt to do "Night watch" dynamic, arbitrarily added and fictional characters).

Rifle companies, usually headed by a captain and Lieutenant, and Rembrandt is no exception. The captain in a black suit with a bright red band name was Frans banning cocq. To the left of him is his assistant, Lieutenant Willem van Ruitenburg.

About Banning coke known that he, although he was the only son of a wealthy chemist, managed to obtain a doctorate in law and managed to marry the daughter of one of the wealthiest and most influential politicians of Amsterdam, turning from a simple Burger to Patricia. Coca's wife gave him an aristocratic title, and he began to make a quick career in the city police he became first Lieutenant, captain soon, and the city Department had an important position – the chief Commissioner on the conclusion of marriage contracts.

Lieutenant van Ruitenburg could also be a living testimony of the prospects of the Dutch democracy: his parents are greengrocers so rich that their son could afford to live in a luxurious Palazzo in the street along the Herengracht and so defiantly wearing expensive, dazzling look suit – tunic of yellow embossed leather, light hat and pantaloons, keleriskiu boots.

Experts believe that Rembrandt very subtly conveys the features of the Dutch patrician hierarchy: although the Lieutenant and discharged in the dust compared to the simple black uniform of a captain, but he deliberately pictured below growth. And the shadow of the hand of the captain, falling on the suit of the Lieutenant directly in the groin, does not necessarily indicate their homosexual relationship (even a voiced version!), but it certainly indicates its higher social position and dominance.

Their subordinates, privates and sergeants, mostly belonged to the Amsterdam Guild of clothiers. For this reason, and also because the militia had no uniform standard of shape, they are all dressed so differently.

So how much Rembrandt received for his work?


Very often you can find such a calculation: it is known that Rembrandt asked each of the shooters, which are depicted in the "Night watch", 100 guilders; in the company of banning Coca there were 16 of them, therefore, and the fee of the artist was 1600 guilders. But in fact, this simple arithmetic – just rooted legend. It could be confusing and complicated. First, there had to be an amount paid by a captain and Lieutenant – commanders, pictured in the foreground, traditionally took more. Secondly, some of those who refused somewhere "on the margins" or whose face was not too well (because of the Rembrandt experiments with light and with the location of the arrow) and could not refuse to contribute your portion of the fee for a lack of detail about his personality, appearance and military prowess on the canvas. Although documentary evidence of this is still not preserved, the second myth about the picture says: some arrows refused to pay Rembrandt. There is a third myth: greedy Rembrandt and even traded with the warriors and a varied cost depending on how profitable the position on the canvas occupied one or the other arquebusier.

Thus, the exact amount received by the artist behind "Night watch", we don't know. One thing is certain: this picture, glorifying his name among the descendants, have rendered him a disservice in life. After "Night watch" profitable orders from Rembrandt diminished, because the world and at all times the vast majority of those who pay for a portrait, want to make it "beautiful" and "it seems", and not become the object of strangers and unpredictable artistic experiments.

Why Rembrandt took the girl in gold?


Low the girl with the red curls in a Golden dress at the right hand of captain Banninga Coca is the most enigmatic figure of the "Night watch". What is she doing among the arquebusiers? Perhaps it the canteen-Keeper – small peddler of those that were accompanied by soldiers in military campaigns, and the chicken (or rooster) on the belt – it product? No, inconclusive, because now peace, not war. Or is it something like "daughter of the regiment", its mascot (for this version, perhaps the majority, focusing on the gun belt girls)? Or she's a prostitute midget (in fact hanging on her belt rooster – a symbol of lust)? And such hypotheses, too, have a right to exist.

But, it seems, we inevitably fall into a semantic dead end, if you're trying to find the presence of girls is strictly naturalistic explanation. Meanwhile, she's not the only one, albeit the most visible, is unreal a figure in the "Night watch". Two men in armor and helmets (one over the shoulder of the captain and the other Lieutenant) also have no relation to the real company of Banninga Coca, and not even Rembrandt portrays them. They are called emblematic figures. But again the question arises: what if the artist enters them?

The two most obvious answers: first, to withdraw the composition from pre-programmed static, make it an element of confusion and dynamics, and secondly to inform the picture some additional meanings.

The first really successful: new characters added to the picture nepredskazuemost and intrigue of the chaotic motion of these Simonazzi worked on the General idea is to transform a still canvas into forever live theater.

The second is only added to the confusion, confused researchers, and blame – the unfortunate cock on the belt. In the Dutch language there is one marking arrow – Slovenia, derived from the word "cloven" – musket. It is consonant with the word denoting the bird's claw, and it is no coincidence emblems infantry units often became the proud birds of prey – hawks or falcons. But wait, what is it, Rembrandt suggests that the emblem best suited to the company of banning Coca, is just a dead rooster?! They say, what warriors is and logo? And, so, then Rembrandt does not glorify the Amsterdam shooters, and jeering at them? Pretends to admire, and all, and he secretly laughing? What low insidiousness! And most importantly – nothing will prove, can only produce a hypothesis...

In 1642, the year when Rembrandt completed the Night watch, his wife Saskia, last year gave birth to their fourth child, died from tuberculosis. It was not summer, June 14. Saskia's body, dressed in a nightgown that was worn on her wedding night, another 5 days, until June 19, was at the home of Rembrandt. All this time he wrote his huge canvas. The girl in the Golden dress is a known face Saskia. Maybe she seemed a widower radiant angel, briefly illuminating the surrounding darkness like Saskia a few years have illuminated his life?

Why "Night watch" was circumcised?


In the XVIII century the cult of Dutch shooters has waned: small guilds were abolished and their property transferred to the city magistrates, and Rembrandt's "Night watch" it was decided to move from Kloveniersdoelen (headquarters building) in the rebuilt city hall. The trouble is that there is such a high and spacious premises in the headquarters of the militia, was not found. To "Night watch" was able to fit on the wall, it is cut on four sides – the wide strip was cut from the top. Such barbarism only says that if a Rembrandt painting at the time and appreciated, it is certainly not perceived as a national treasure. Her cult began later.

Fortunately, preserved reduced copy of "Night watch"captain banning cocq wanted to hang it at home and ordered a repetition of the painter Gerrit to Lundense. Due to this, you can imagine how the picture looked originally.

In the town hall because of the peculiarities of the heating pattern is covered with soot and considerably darkened by the nineteenth century, many had forgotten that her name was once present names of the captain and the Lieutenant. The picture became known as simply "Night watch". This name stuck to the pattern so firmly behind her and when one of several restorations, clearing the black layer, found that the time of day depicted by Rembrandt – it is not a night and about two o'clock in the afternoon. It is, however, also very rough: under certificates of contemporaries of Rembrandt, many immediately complained that the picture turned out too dark.

Contemporaries "Night watch" might seem unusual, odd, even compared to other paintings with small companies is shocking. But gradually there was an understanding that a Rembrandt is nothing more and nothing less than a national heirloom, something that gives pure Dutch reality universal meaning, makes the picture interesting to all mankind, not just the relatives and descendants of those gallant arquebusiers what it depicts.

"A group of brave guardsmen only is sent in daily, the city bypass, says British art critic Waldemar Januszczak, – but the feeling of importance, mood, motion, tension so baroquely intense, if they are going to save the world!"

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait, Genre scene

Style of art: Baroque, The Golden age of Holland

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1642

Size: 379.5×453.5 cm

Artwork in selections: 28 selections

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