Rembrandt’s Night time Watch paint recipe gives clues to the proper wall filler | Rembrandt

The secrets and techniques of Rembrandt’s portray approach on The Night time Watch stay misplaced to time for now. However researchers tasked with fixing the thriller consider they might a minimum of have gleaned some clues as to the proper recipe for wall filler.

Scientists at AkzoNobel, the Dutch house owners of Dulux paints, have been working since 2019 with conservators at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum on the restoration of Rembrandt’s masterpiece, constructing a greater image of how the Seventeenth-century painter labored.

A key goal for Gerard van Ewijk, AkzoNobel’s analysis and designer supervisor, has been to uncover the recipe utilized by Rembrandt in his impasto approach, the place paint is layered thickly sufficient to face out from the canvas.

The well-defined clothes of Lieutenant Willem Van Ruytenburch on the portray – the total title of which is The Night time Watch militia below the command of Capt Frans Banninck Cocq – is one instance of the place Rembrandt achieved such an progressive 3D impact.

Scientist at laboratory bench
Gerard van Ewijk of AkzoNobel mixes white pigment with uncooked linseed oil to create impasto paint. {Photograph}: Judith Jockel/The Guardian

The conclusions of Van Ewijk’s investigations into the paint pose maybe extra questions than solutions, nevertheless.

Earlier research of a “tiny sq. of paint, smaller than a crumble of paint” had found egg yoke within the impasto, stated Katrien Keune, head of science on the Rijksmuseum. Yolk was believed to have been blended with boiled linseed oil and lead oxide to create what Van Ewijk described as a “sort of mayonnaise”.

After intensive work within the laboratories on the Rijksmuseum and AkzoNobel’s facility on the outskirts of the Dutch capital, Van Ewijk found that there had not been any want for the egg yolk so as to create the identical impact.

A 30:70 ratio of uncooked linseed oil and lead white creates the proper impasto paint, elevating a wonderfully believable various recipe to that beforehand assumed to have been used.

Lieutenant Willem Van Ruytenburch
Element of The Night time Watch displaying Lieutenant Willem Van Ruytenburch whose clothes is painted with the impasto approach. {Photograph}: Peter de Jong/AP

“We even questioned whether or not the earlier evaluation had been appropriate however we expect the egg was undoubtedly there,” he stated. “There are a number of recipes he might have used … I feel one of many outcomes is that you simply don’t really need [the egg] so it’s nonetheless a little bit of a thriller why it’s there”.

However all shouldn’t be misplaced. The strenuous efforts of Van Ewijk and his staff haven’t solely provided perception into the potential vary of approaches open to the artist however has additionally delivered advances within the creation of Polycell, Dulux’s model of wall filler offered within the UK.

“ how he acquired such structured paint helps us perceive wall filler in a barely totally different approach,” Van Ewijk stated, citing the brand new strategies utilized by his laboratory to look at their efforts at replicating the impasto.

Vials and jars
Scientists at AkzoNobel got down to recreate Rembrandt’s paint recipe. {Photograph}: Judith Jockel/The Guardian

The primary goal of the intensive analysis into The Night time Watch had been to organize for its first restoration in over 40 years following a tumultuous 4 centuries throughout which it was even hidden in a bunker in coastal dunes in the beginning of the second world battle.

Step one – forward of a call later this 12 months on whether or not to take away a number of layers of varnish utilized to the paint over the centuries – had been to appropriate deformation of the canvas seen in its high left-hand nook.

The injury is believed to have been sustained through the portray’s keep within the Philips wing of the Rijksmuseum throughout the principle constructing’s renovation between 2003 and 2013.

The three.63-metre by 4.37-metre portray has now been faraway from a wood stretcher to which it was connected by metallic tacks since 1975 and fitted to a brand new one fabricated from a non-reactive materials. A choice on subsequent steps is anticipated in December.

AkzoNobel has additionally been advising the Rijksmuseum on the longer term lighting of the portray and the way in which to greatest {photograph} its many shades of black.

Petria Noble, head of work conservation on the Rijksmuseum, stated AkzoNobel’s experiments had dominated out “as nonsense” some earlier theories that wax or paint scrapings had been utilized by Rembrandt to create the thick impasto paint.

“That is kind of a lacking piece of knowledge that has puzzled historians and researchers for an extended, very long time, so you need to take it [step by step], moving into the fitting route to determine what’s going on,” she stated.

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