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If the miracle of the definitive reconstruction will effectively take place, at a given moment in the future, at least one million genuine art lovers will experience an epiphanic sensation.
Instead of missing the point all the time when watching the Nightwatch as a result of the truncation we see now the beguiling masterpiece in its full splendour.
In the new situation (after the definitive reconstruction has taken place) we will be able to behold the panoramic baroque composition and Rembrandt’s original artistic concept as a complete composition.
La belle allemande
La belle allemande.
The 16th century sculpture by Gregor Erhart in the collection of the Louvre museum is a good example how historical works of art can be restored in a very satisfying way. The sculpture representing Maria Magdalena was found without feet.
Obviously due to reckless handling. An expert craftsman of 20th century reconstructed the feet in a quite satisfying way.
Now we can appreciate the sculpture almost as an original.
Could this be an example for the Rijksmuseum? At least this beautiful restored sculpture could inspire the Rijksmuseum to investigate whether the Nightwatch could be restored in an equally intelligent and satisfying way.
Reconstructie K.H. de Haas
De Haas was a Dutch mathematician of the interbellum period who was deeply involved with the Nightwatch and the discrepancy of the complete original and the mutilated composition that everybody knows today.
De Haas in 1927 produced a prophetic article, being the first individual in the 20th century to put forward the idea of a reconstruction of the Nightwatch in its entirety.
As an initial step of the process in his view, the Nightwatch should be copied in the classical manner 1:1. (The central area of Rembrandt, the margins of Lundens.)
Henceforward the real reconstruction of the original Nightwatch should be carried out.*
Astonishingly his idea was never responded to, or notified in the public realm.
As time went by, technology progressed at a breathtaking pace and many impossibilities of the past can be realized today or are practically within reach.
I think that in our time the proposal of De Haas should be reconsidered and seriously be regarded as an option.
* The central area of Rembrandt with Lundens’ margins added proportionally.
Tekening reconstructie K.H. de Haas
The easy part.
Effectively the paintwork of the missing margins linked to the definitive reconstruction of the Nightwatch can be regarded as the easy part.
To many ears this may sound as a blasphemy, however compared to the problems related to the enlarging of the original canvas, the paintwork of the margins can be considered almost as routine(!).
Studying Lundens, we distinguish darker hues on the extreme left part and intentionally the two adult persons and the child overlooking the parapet are painted unsharp.
Of course everything in accordance with Rembrandt’s original.
Rembrandt applied the atmospherical perspective in the Nightwatch to create the illusion of a spaciality.
And so the artisan who will complete the reconstruction and who will realize the finishing touches, will only have to deal with the painting of silhouettes filled in with almost sketchily painted faces and costumes.
Verhoudingen bij reconstructie K.H. de Haas
AD - Ronald de Leeuw
AD - Gary Schwartz
AD - Ernst van de Wetering

A daunting task.

Enlarging the nightwatch.
Today we have a damaged canvas reduced in size, incomplete and unsatisfying for the keen eye of the connoisseur.
The extension of the nightwatch from the incorrect measurements of today to its original size as it was in 1642, will be a daunting task.
The relationship of the canvas and the frame must be thoroughly analyzed before the process of relinement can be realized.
Must the original canvas remain posted on the supporting canvas [ today's situation ] or is it necessary to remove the original canvas from its supporting canvas?
Where do we find the expertise required for a definitive reconstruction of the nightwatch?
How can we organize, combine and coordinate, the science, the craftsmanship and the technology to achieve the goal, upgrading the nightwatch to its original full baroque splendor?
Which universities, which laboratories may be approached or invited to participate in the project? C E R N ? NASA ?
The preparatory research should not be only focused on the object as it is, analytically, but must be emphatically explorative in its intention.
The goal, [reconstructing the complete, original nightwatch] cannot be achieved solely by means of infra red technology, or tiny brushes, or cotton pads.
A method should be invented to transfer the original canvas to a new frame, [unharmed] [!] Then the relining. Then the paintwork and subsequently the finishing touches.
Maybe new tools will have to be invented.
Maybe new materials should be applied.
The preparative research preceding the actual reconstructing will be a daunting task.
The relining and the enlarging process will also be a daunting task. The paintwork in the conclusive stage, in the hands of well trained expert artisan, is going to be a rewarding challenging and fascinating assignment for a contemporary artist, specialized and trained in the traditional way of realistic painting.
Yet, the most complicated, the most difficult and time consuming work will be the preparative procedures and the construction, not the paintwork.

Restauratie 1
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Restauratie 5
Restauratie 7
Restauratie 9
  Restauratie 2
Restauratie 4
Restauratie 6
Restauratie 8
Restauratie 10
Restauratie 11
De Nachtwacht op terugreis naar Amsterdam
pounding                   reconstruction                   protection
During the time span of its existence, the nightwatch took a lot of pounding.
After the dramatic alteration in 1715 the nightwatch survived:
removals, assaults
and attacks by vandals.
Despite all this, the nightwatch is luckily still in reasonably good condition.
If ever a definitive reconstruction will be realized, the golden rule should be and must be, that the original painting shall not be altered or damaged in any way, despite circumstances or encumbrances that might occur, during the process of reconstruction.
This golden rule should be maintained consequently as a basic precondition.
Let's hope that the nightwatch will be restored in an intelligent and satisfying way during our life time. When the miraculous rebirth of the beloved masterpiece has taken place, it would be wise and sense full to implement a watertight security system.
The world would be a better place with the nightwatch complete; unharmed, well preserved and secured.
Terug in het Rijksmuseum
Alfred Eikelenboom will only respond to meaningful reactions.
Reactions that supplement, promote, encourage or contribute to a fruitful debate, that eventually can lead to an investigation about the feasibility of this project.
Of course serious criticism based on realistic or well considered arguments will be answered as well.

The Netherlands Foundation For Visual Arts, Design and Architecture