Who has never dreamed of taking a look over the shoulder of a table restorer, to observe how he revives, by small touches, a masterpiece darkened by time.
This is what visitors Rijksmuseum from Amsterdam will be able to do from Monday, July 8th, starting the biggest restoration ever of The Night Watch from Rembrandt, behind glass walls in the gallery of honor of the museum.
The restoration of the immense painting, one of the most famous works in the world, will also be broadcast live on the web, so that "everyone" can attend.
"Night round operation"
Called "Operation Round Night", the project, which costs several million euros, is a great first. It is "the largest and most comprehensive research and restoration work of Rembrandt's masterpiece in history," according to a statement from the museum.
With an eye on the future and future generations, the Rijksmuseum wishes to "preserve at best" the masterpiece, which attracts more than two million visitors every year.
They will be able to observe the delicate gestures of the restorers at work in a glass case created especially for the occasion and designed by the French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who had already been entrusted with the layout of the rooms during the event. long renovation of the museum completed in 2013.
Slashed with a knife
The Dutchman Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669) had received in 1642 an order from the captain of the Amsterdam bourgeois militia Frans Banninck Cocq to portray the officers and members of his militia.
Her Night round, monumental painting, date of 1642 and measures 3.8 meters high and 4.5 meters wide for a weight of 337 kilos.
In three and a half centuries, the painting has seen a series of moves or attempts at restoration and even escaped the Nazis.
The last major restoration of the work goes back more than forty years, after an attack in 1975 of an imbalance which had slashed it with stabbings.
Since then, experts have noted the appearance of a white halo on some parts of the painting, especially around the area damaged by stabbing, discolouring the representation of a small dog in the lower right.
"We have noticed in recent years that a white glow appeared in the lower part of the table, we want to be able to understand what it is" and "restore the work at best", explained the director of the museum Taco Dibbits when he had unveiled the restoration operation in October.
To do this, the experts will examine the painting with high resolution photographs and digitized analyzes of the canvas and each layer of varnish and paint, before determining the best restoration techniques.
Before his relifting and early Monday work, which could take several years, The Night Watch was the highlight in the spring of an exhibition organized for the 350th anniversary of the death of the famous Dutch painter.