Millions of eyes have gazed upon it but until now none have seen the secret hidden sketch revealed beneath the Rembrandt classic ‘The Night Watch’. Using ground-breaking science, the artists intent for the masterpiece has been revealed.
A study began almost three years ago at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam as part of restoration work on Rembrandt’s foremost masterpiece. This work revealed that there has always been a secret sketch buried beneath layers of paint.
In the original base sketch, Rembrandt rendered 34 characters and a range of spears, flags and other staffs protruding skyward in the original chalky beige base sketch.
This sketch seemingly went through a range of changes before it was finally completed in 1642, however, thanks to the high chalk content of the sketch, modern technology has been able to view it an x-ray-like fashion.
One of the researchers, Pieter. Roelofs explained the calcium mapping, stating: “We see straight lines and curves. With the curves he created an initial sketch for the architecture in the background. You may ask why is this so important? Well, it gives us the feeling we can peek over Rembrandt’s shoulder while he was working on The Night Watch.”
Adding: “Now that we can see beneath the surface better than ever before, we now have the proof, this gives us real insight into Rembrandt’s creative process for the first time. It is fascinating to see how he’s searched for the right composition. We’ve discovered the origins of The Night Watch.”
This has also raised the question as to why Rembrandt changed his mind throughout the process and biographers having tirelessly begun searching for clues. Further research is also being conducted by the team behind the discovery to see what else can be dredged up from beneath the golden surface of Rembrandt.