The Associated Press covers the new exhibition of Rembrandt’s work computer-enhanced by Ernst Van de Wetering to re-create the master’s work as it emerged from his studio:
Over 40 years Van de Wetering has learned to dissect a Rembrandt into its smallest components, from the paint he used, the grounding of the work, the grain in the wood from which he cut his panels and the number of threads in his canvas.
Working with that knowledge and from contemporary copies by students, Van de Wetering could reconstruct works like “The Night Watch,” arguably Rembrandt’s most famous work, which has been radically altered and which he calls “a ruin” of the original. “It’s a wreck,” he said in an interview.
In the exhibition, a copy of The Night Watch — a 1642 group portrait of an Amsterdam militia in colorful formal attire — as it is in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, stands next to a recreation of the original. Over the years, the massive painting had been trimmed on all sides, and two figures were cut completely from the left side. The result moved the two central characters to the middle of the canvas, destroying Rembrandt’s intention to convey an image of motion.
Van de Wetering reconstructed the original work using a small copy painted by Amsterdam artist Gerrit Lundens seven years after Rembrandt finished The Night Watch. The copy not only included the pieces later lopped off but its colors had better retained their brightness because it was painted on panel.
Digital Images of All Rembrandt’s Work on Show (Associated Press)