AMSTERDAM: The Rijksmuseum announced on Tuesday that it will restore the "Night Watch" by Rembrandt, a monumental group portrait that occupies a prominent place in the Dutch national museum and in the hearts of the Dutch. The restoration will last several years, while the painting remains on display in the Museum's Gallery of Honor, so that the public can observe the process.
Taco Dibbits, director of the museum, said in an interview that this will be a "big company" and the "largest research and conservation project" of the Rijksmuseum. He compared it in scale with the restoration of Michelangelo's frescoes in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. He did not provide an estimate of the cost of the renovation, but said it would be "millions in at least several years."
The 1642 painting by Rembrandt, formally known as the "Company of Militia of District II under the command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq", has not been restored since 1976, after a visitor to the museum attacked it with a bread knife, nailing Knife marks the surface, cutting a hole seven feet wide and tearing off a section of the canvas.
At that time, the museum was able to restore the paint and touch up the surface, but part of the retouching has now turned yellow, said Mr. Dibbits, and needs to be renovated. Museum curators have also noticed that the lower left corner of the painting, where there is a small dog, has bleached over time, and they do not know why.
The Rijksmuseum plans to study the painting for the first time for approximately eight months, using new scanning technologies that were not available during previous restorations, such as the macro X-ray fluorescence scan, which can explore different layers of the paint surface for Determine what needs to be done
It is likely that the restoration itself will take at least a couple of years, said Mr. Dibbits. Throughout the process, a transparent showcase will be built around the painting, the scientists and the restorers, so that visitors can see the progress.
Mr. Dibbits recalled seeing the previous restoration of the "Night Watch" when he was a child growing up in Amsterdam. "I was 9 years old and we went as a family several times to see it," he said. "It's very impressive because you can see the process and you're basically standing in the operating room."
When completed, Mr. Dibbits hopes that research and restoration will give academics more information about the work and give visitors a clearer idea of the original painting. "Visually it will be a big change," said Dibbits. "You will see many more details and there will be areas of the painting that will be much easier to read."
"There are many mysteries of painting that we could solve," he added. "Actually, we do not know much about how Rembrandt painted it, with the last conservation, the techniques were basically limited to X-ray photos and now we have many more tools, we can see the creative mind of one of the most brilliant artists in the world."