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This week for our cultural article, we will be examining Rembrandt’s (1606 – 1669) 1642 painting, “The Night Watch.”
“The Night Watch” represents a style of painting that was unique to Holland and the northern Netherlands during the 17th century: the Schuttersstuk. Furthermore, Rembrandt’s rendition is, in and of itself, a highly original rendition in that it does not rely upon the typical rows of figures common to the style. Instead, Rembrandt’s painting featured animated subjects engaged in the various duties and responsibilities of the Civic Guard.
Painted using oils on a 142.9 by 172.0-inch canvas, “The Night Watch” is Rembrandt’s largest painting. Despite its title, the painting is actually set during the day. The reason the painting’s background looks so dark is that the varnish Rembrandt used darkened over the years. It was restored to its original glory in the 1940s, but the name “The Night Watch” stuck. On a side note, it is interesting to observe Rembrandt’s well-known use of the technique ‘chiaroscuror’ (Italian for ‘light-dark’) which uses light and dark to create dramatic contrasts and a sense of three-dimensionality.
Painted during the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt was commissioned to create the painting by the Kloveniersdolen – the guild hall of the Amsterdam Civic Guard Company of Musketeers. In the Netherlands, Civic Guardsmen were tasked with the defence of their cities, the maintenance of law and order, firefighting, and forming a strong presence during festivities and parades for visiting royalty. Each company of Civic Guardsmen had its own guild hall decorated, according to tradition, with group portraits of distinguished members. These portraits were designed to evoke a sense of affinity between the members of the company and asserted their power and status within the cities they protected.
President Trump has spoken today at a 9/11 commemoration at the Pentagon on Monday morning.
Sixteen years ago, Islamic terrorists hijacked four aeroplanes and used them to strike fear into the American people. At 8.46am, American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Centre. Seventeen minutes later, American Airlines Flight 175 slammed into the south tower. By 10.30am, both towers had fallen.
At 9.28am, American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon and started a violent fire. A final flight, United Airlines Flight 93, crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania after its passengers attempted to retake control of the aeroplane.
By the end of the day, 2,997 people lay dead.
Speaking at the Pentagon, President Trump stated:
“This is an occasion that is extraordinary and it’ll always be extraordinary. Today our entire nation grieves with you and with every family of those 2,977 innocent souls who were murdered by terrorists 16 years ago. On that day not only did the world change but we all changed. Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we faced.”
President Trump continued by praising the American military and vowing to hunt down those who terrorise others:
“In the years after September 11th, more than five million young men and women have joined the ranks of our great military to defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction. American forces are relentlessly pursuing and destroying the enemies of all civilized people, ensuring, and these are horrible, horrible enemies, enemies like we’ve never seen before. But we’re ensuring they never again have a safe haven to launch attacks against our country. We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth.”