Discover the stories behind Rembrandt's masterpiece

Experience the Night Watch

Night Watch, Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

Night Watch, Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642

oil on canvas, h 379.5cm × w 453.5cm × w 337kg More details

Rembrandt’s largest, most famous canvas was made for the Arquebusiers guild hall. This was one of several halls of Amsterdam’s civic guard, the city’s militia and police. Rembrandt was the first to paint figures in a group portrait actually doing something. The captain, dressed in black, is telling his lieutenant to start the company marching. 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.

On display in Nightwatch gallery Visit via the Highlights 1 (orange) tour Visit via the Highlights 2 (green) tour

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