Through Art Market & You, Art From Us provides you Analysis, Opinion and Factual Reports regarding the current on-goings of the Global Art Market. In this article, we discuss the Live Restoration of Rembrandt’s Night Watch
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch
The Night Watch by Rembrandt van Rijn is housed at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The work was painted around 1642 and is a fine example of the artistic style of the Dutch Golden Age. Recently, the Rijksmuseum has announced that the work will undergo restoration starting July 2019. The work was last restored 40 years ago and its canvas is showing signs of fading.
The Restoration Process
While the periodic restoration of paintings is common in the art world, the process that this masterpiece is to undergo will be unique. It has been announced by Taco Dibbits, the General Director of the Rijksmuseum, that the painting will still be up for public view while it is being repaired.
The museum has commissioned French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte to build a 7 meter square glass chamber that will enclose the masterpiece and the experts restoring it. In this way, the museum aims to promote ‘transparency’ in the process of restoration, literally. The whole procedure will be ‘on view’ at the museum itself. Further, authorities have also confirmed that it will be livestreamed on the internet. This will provide audiences across the globe a chance to get up-close and personal with the painting.
While it is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the restoration of a Dutch masterpiece, we can’t help but question the museum’s intentions.
It is common knowledge in the art world that the repair of a painting is an extremely intimate process. It calls for skill, precision and privacy. Historically, only top-of-the-field experts are allowed near a painting once it is in the process of conservation. However, allowing the public access to this journey would certainly benefit a public institution in several way.
It is no coincidence that 2019 marks the 350th death anniversary of the Dutch master. A live conservation of Night Watch would successfully capture young audiences, who prefer the performative over the static. For young museum-goers, the whole event would be instagram-worthy content. Another important aspect to consider would be whether or not the event would be ticketed. A live-restoration would certainly make for a great revenue collection strategy.
According to Taco Dibbits, the top of the line technology being used will ensure that the painting survives for generations to come. So irrespective of motivations, the art world looks forward to the show and thanks the Rijksmuseum for preserving a significant piece of world culture.
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