Rembrandt masterpiece reconstructed and expanded with AI: see it like never before

For the past two years, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has worked on reconstructing Rembrandt’s famous piece the Night Watch, reports NOS.

Now, the first phase of the museum’s “Operation Night Watch” is concluded and, for a limited time period, you can see the painting as Rembrandt had “intended it.”

Original format

When Rembrandt completed the Night Watch in 1642, it was hung in a banquet hall in the Kloveniersdoelen in Amsterdam. However, the painting was moved in around 1715 for it to be admired in the new town hall — what is now the Royal Palace of Amsterdam.

But, when moving the painting, the Amsterdam municipality encountered a problem: The Night Watch was too large for its new location.

So what did they do to Rembrandt’s masterpiece? They simply cut off a strip of the painting on all sides! Now it fit the intended wall, squeezed between two doors. Problem solved, right? 🙃

READ MORE | Why The Night Watch is Rembrandt’s Masterpiece

Missing pieces and reconstruction

The pieces that were cut off around 1715 have never been recovered. Fortunately, another Dutch painter, Gerrit Lundends, made a replica of the famous Rembrandt piece before it was cut (goed gedaan!).

Thanks to this replica, the Rijksmuseum was able to assess what the original painting must have looked like. Nevertheless, Lundeds was no Rembrandt — and so the past two years of “Operation Night Watch” have been spent studying Rembrandt’s techniques and use of colours.

And then comes the magic — or, well, science. The team who studied Rembrandt’s techniques essentially taught this knowledge to a computer, which then reconstructed the missing parts of the Night Watch using AI!

“The complete Night Watch can be seen for the first time in 300 years! The team from #OperationNightwatch have made a reconstruction of the missing pieces with help from artificial intelligence. See the behind the scenes video here”

Experience the Night Watch

The Night Watch is now on temporary display in the Rijksmuseum. The reconstructions of the missing pieces have been hung as panels around the painting. With the extra panels, it’s now possible to see the masterpiece as Rembrandt has originally intended it.

According to the museum, this changes the experience of the painting and makes it much more dynamic! In fact, the reconstruction shows that the composition of the painting is different from how we’ve known the Night Watch until now.

This autumn, the panels will be removed again and the actual reconstruction will begin. Want to see the Night Watch in its full format but can’t make it to the Rijksmuseum before the autumn? Don’t worry! You can do an online experience of the painting on the museum’s website.

What do you think of “Operation Night Watch”? Will you be going to the Rijksmuseum this to view the painting this summer? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: felker/Depositphotos

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).



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