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kottke.org posts about Gerrit Lundens

A Rembrandt Masterpiece Uncropped by AI

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 24, 2021

a full frame version of Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting

In 1715, a significant chunk of Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch, including a 2-foot-wide swath from the left side of the painting, was lopped off in order to fit the painting in a smaller space. (WTF?!) Using a contemporary copy of the full scene painted by Gerrit Lundens and an AI program for getting the colors and angles right, the Rijksmuseum has “restored” The Night Watch, augmenting the painting with digital printouts of the missing bits. The uncropped Rembrandt is shown above and here is Lundens’s version:

Gerrit Lundens' version of Rembrandt's The Night Watch painting

I’m not an expert on art, but the 1715 crop and the shift of the principal characters from right-of-center to the center appears to have radically altered the whole feel of the painting.

With the addition especially on the left and the bottom, an empty space is created in the painting where they march towards. When the painting was cut [the lieutenants] were in the centre, but Rembrandt intended them to be off-centre marching towards that empty space, and that is the genius that Rembrandt understands: you create movement, a dynamic of the troops marching towards the left of the painting.

(via @john_overholt)