Cities, Museums

The most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam?


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Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn is the most famous of Holland’s seventeenth-century painters and, Night Watch, the most famous painting in the Rijksmuseum, actually has another title: the ‘Company of Frans Banning Cocq and 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 by which it is now commonly known. This varnish was removed only in the 1940s. The picture is a militia painting: a group portrait of a division of the civic guard. Rembrandt depicted the group of militiamen in an original way. He did not paint them in neat row or sitting at their annual banquet, rather, he recorded a moment: a group of militiamen have just moved into action and are about to march off.


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