Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The Night Watch of the Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum has a collection of over 1 million paintings and other objects. Unfortunately, like most other major museums around the world, it is currently closed to the public. However that doesn't mean that you can't still visit the museum virtually from your own home.

Rijksmuseum Masterpieces Up Close allows you to take a virtual walk around the Gallery of Honour. The Gallery of Honour is a long gallery which is headed at one end by Rembrandt's The Night Watch. The side alcoves, running down both sides of the gallery, feature a number of other Dutch masterpieces by the great artists of the seventeenth century.

The Rijksmuseum's virtual tour of the gallery is made up of a number of connected 360 degree panoramic images. Arrows within these images allow you to walk around the gallery and zoom in on individual paintings. A number of these paintings feature audio guides and textual information.

One of the masterpieces that you can examine up close is Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642). The audio and textual guides for The Night Watch provide a detailed introduction to the painting’s history and composition. The Night Watch, depicts the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. There are 17 members of the guard (and the captain) shown in the painting, each of whom paid Rembrandt 100 guilders to be included in the picture. The painting is particularly noteworthy because of its dramatic use of light and shadow and the perception of motion captured within the scene.

While touring the Gallery of Honour you can also admire the architecture of the Rijsmuseum. The alcoves running down the sides of the gallery are each framed with cast iron beams. On these beams are inscribed the names of the famous Dutch painters of the golden age of Dutch art. Above these iron beams are semi-circular wall sections which display the coats of arms of the eleven provinces of the Netherlands and their capital cities.

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