In the year 2006 Holland commemorated the 400th birthday of Rembrandt van Rijn, the great Dutch painter of the 17th century commonly designated in the Netherlands as the ‘Golden Century’. To celebrate this event various activities took place. Exhibitions, films, musicals and other festivities to honour the jubilee of the great master. 
Remarkably, the opus magnum of Rembrandt, the Night Watch, the pinnacle of his professional career, has been forgotten and neglected, ever since the year 1715 when it was reduced in size in order to let it fit in a newly chosen exhibition room. The canvas was painted in 1642 and depicts the marching musketeers of Amsterdam, the civil militia that should protect the city in times of unrest. The original painting was trimmed on all sides in the fateful year 1715 and measured originally 5 meter in width but only 4.38 after the trimming. After 1715 the Night Watch started an odyssey that led through various locations, the Second World War (when it was hidden), and attacks by crazy vandals.

Luckily our Night Watch is still there.

In 1927 a mathematician K.H. de Haas carried out an intensive research project targeted towards the original size of the undamaged complete painting and comparing it with the copy that Lundens, a contemporary colleague, made shortly after 1642 when the Night Watch was delivered to its commissioners. In his conclusive statement of the book that De Haas published in 1928, the visionary mathematician proposed to restore the Night Watch in its original splendour with the aid of Lundens copy.

The contemporary artist Alfred Eikelenboom put forward exactly the same proposal 70 years later. However, there is a difference. In the 21th century, we have incomparably more scientific data, information and expertise of any kind than in 1927. Eikelenboom, who strongly emphasizes that research and a meticulous investigation must take place as a roadmap to a definitive restoration.  
In his quest for beauty and truth (fixing the Night Watch) he started a controversy that has been picked up by an important newspaper and a T.V. channel in the Netherlands (2005 and 2006). So, the genius is out of the bottle. The idea of a total reconstruction cannot be ignored anymore. The Night Watch can be considered without any reservation as world heritage and for that reason Eikelenboom is convinced that the issue must be introduced to an international audience. Alfred Eikelenboom is aiming for an investigation that is based on intensive research. As an option a hypothetical scenario in virtual reality of the various stages of the reconstruction could enlighten the technical aspects of a restoration. The authorities in the Netherlands reject the proposal out of hand.

What is the position of the foreign experts?

Alfred Eikelenboom desperately wants to know the position of  scholars outside Holland on this topic.  



Is a complete restoration of the Night Watch desirable or undesirable?
Is a complete restoration of the Night Watch possible or impossible?

An inquiry, intensive as well as extensive, will satisfy many art lovers and Rembrandt admirers. What we have now is a decree of the director of the Rijksmuseum (do not touch the Night Watch) and the protocol that historical art objects should be 100% authentic (but how do we define authenticity?). As a result of the rigid implementation of a decree or a protocol, connoisseurs and art lovers of the world  are missing a golden opportunity.  
The ethics as well as the technicality of the reconstruction problem could be and should be thoroughly investigated. I hope that in the end inquisitiveness will prevail.


Alfred Eikelenboom