Rembrandt’s huge ‘Night Watch’ gets bigger thanks to AI

AMSTERDAM (AP) — One of Rembrandt van Rijn’s biggest paintings just got a bit bigger.

A marriage of art and artificial intelligence has enabled Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to recreate parts of the iconic ‘Night Watch’ painting (AP pic below) that were snipped off 70 years after Rembrandt finished it.

The printed strips now hang flush to the edges of the 1642 painting in the museum’s Honor Gallery. Their addition restores to the work the off-centre focal point that rebellious Golden Age master Rembrandt originally intended.

“It can breathe now,” museum director Taco Dibbits told The Associated Press (AP)yesterday.

The crowded painting’s two main characters, Captain Frans Banninck Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch, are central in the chopped down painting. With the new digital additions — particularly a strip on the left of the painting that features two men and makes clear that a boy is looking over a balustrade — the main figures effectively are shifted to the right. “It really gives the painting a different dynamic,” Dibbits said. “And what it taught us is that Rembrandt never does what you expect.”

The museum always knew the original, uncut, painting was bigger, in part thanks to a far smaller copy painted at the same time that is attributed to Gerrit Lundens.