Standpunt Nachtwacht

Reinier Gerritsen

Photography | Publication

This is how The Nightwatch sees us

In 2019 the Rijksmuseum honoured me with a special assignment. I was commissioned to photograph the restauration of The Nightwatch, a job that took me into 2022.

A glass casing containing a mobile platform was constructed around the painting. The examination and restauration of the canvas was carried out ‘live’ in front of the public, by a team of specialists standing on this platform. And that is where I was, wielding my camera dressed in a dust coat, very close to the painting.

My assignment included photographing the public that was gazing at The Nightwatch. A unique situation, for never before had people looking at a painting been captured full face in this way. Together, they spontaneously formed a group portrait similar to that depicted by Rembrandt. As I took my pictures, I got the feeling that, in a way, The Nightwatch is always watching us, its audience.

In catalogues of Rembrandt’s work, I found similarities between my Nightwatch audience and the master’s work. At a second-hand bookshop I bought a stack of catalogues which I had to cut to size for this particular kind of recycling. (My apologies to the people who produced the originals.) In every catalogue I stuck 10 of my own photos.

More Reinier Gerritsen

See all 4 stories of Reinier Gerritsen