The Night Watch
The Night Watch is Rembrandt’s famous civic guard portrait – a painting that has gone down in history as marking the turning point in his career and as the superlative example of his creative genius. This massive painting was made for one of the three headquarters of Amsterdam’s civic guard. These groups of civilian soldiers defended the city from attack. Rembrandt was the first to paint all of the figures in a civic guard piece in action. The captain, dressed in black, gives the order to march out. The guardsmen are getting into formation. Rembrandt used the light to focus on particular details, like the captain’s gesturing hand and the young girl in the foreground. She was the company mascot. The nickname Night Watch originated much later, when the painting was thought to represent a nocturnal scene.
The fame of the masterpieces in the Rijksmuseum’s collections makes it one of the most famous museums in the world. But besides masterpieces like The Milkmaid by Vermeer, Self-portrait by Van Gogh, The Merry Family by Jan Steen and Rembrandt’s Night Watch, there are many other pieces in the collection that could take you by surprise and capture your imagination. No matter how old you are, or where you’re from, you’ll discover something new at the Rijksmuseum. And for that, you don’t even need to leave your chair – the museum features a wide range of online exhibitions and digitally accessible works of art.