Here's The Museum You Should Visit If You Want To See The Night Watch

There are few who don't know the name Rembrandt van Rijn, a prolific 17th century artist who used many mediums to manipulate the movement of light and darkness in his paintings. His deeply intimate self portraits and exaggerated details are often referenced in art history to understand the richness of the Baroque period. Many of these paintings are small in size, pulling you into Rembrandt's world (via Biography). However, one of the artist's most famous paintings isn't afraid to take up space — it clocks in at approximately 12 feet high and 14 feet wide (via Daily Art Magazine).

"Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq," better known as "The Night Watch," is a colossal piece of work that is said to have captured the spirit of the Dutch Golden Age. Featuring an equipped and on-the-move military civic guard, the painting takes viewers right to the site of unyielding patriotism in a time when the Dutch were fighting the Spanish sovereign (via Visual Arts Encyclopedia). Rembrandt's depiction of the guard, commissioned by one of the subjects in the painting (Captain Frans Banninck Cocq), has seen brutal mutilation in the form of cutting, acid spills, and lack of conservation over the years. In any case, it has now been regarded as a cultural icon that millions of visitors travel to see.

If you're taking an art tour, stop over to see "The Night Watch" in this exciting location after you've viewed the stunning "Luncheon on the Grass" in Paris.

Travel to the Netherlands to see this masterpiece

Rembrandt van Rijn grew up in Holland, and never ventured abroad, per The Metropolitan Museum of Art. So, it's unsurprising that the enormous canvas of "The Night Watch" didn't go too far, either. The painting was originally placed in the Arquebusiers Guild Hall when it was made in 1642. However, when it was moved to the Amsterdam City Hall in 1715, huge panels of the painting were cut off so it could fit through the doors (via ARTnews). With the fragments lost forever, the painting was taken to its final resting place: The Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands.

There, the painting was the victim of three more attacks. Two men slashed at it with knives while another sprayed sulfuric acid on it (via Daily Art Magazine). Fortunately, the painting has only received adulation and restoration attempts since 1990. One of the more notable restoration projects taken up by the museum is called "Operation Night Watch," an artificial intelligence-led recreation of the missing pieces of the painting in 2019. Why AI? The museum's senior scientist Rob Erdmann explained to ARTnews, "There's nothing wrong with having an artist recreate [the missing pieces] by looking at the small copy, but then we'd see the hand of the artist there. Instead, we wanted to see if we could do this without the hand of an artist. That meant turning to artificial intelligence."

The painting was restored by AI

Meticulously trained computers completed the cut off fragments from "The Night Watch" and the Rijksmuseum revealed the entire project in 2021. It was on view for three months before it was taken down. "It already felt to me like it was quite bold to put these computer reconstructions next to Rembrandt," senior scientist Rob Erdmann said to ARTnews. For a moment, though, Rembrandt's true vision took form, where the civic guard marched relentlessly in a magnificent group portrait. A young girl, who is interpreted to be a mascot of the guard, and two military men in the center, are the only three subjects who are greatly illuminated. Rembrandt directs the viewers to these subjects while creating a clear hierarchy in the group.

The back of the painting is also notable, according to Pieter Roelofs, head of paintings and sculpture at Rijksmuseum. "Seeing it without a frame and so close, you can see how fragile the painting is, and how great our responsibility is to properly research this world-famous art work before we pass it on to future generations," (via ARTnews).  "The Night Watch" can be seen at The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For art lovers looking for their next expedition after seeing this gorgeous Rembrandt piece, "The Last Supper" can be viewed at a museum in Milan, Italy.