What a cool Father’s Day present from my teenage daughter today! She has drawn me her impression of one of my favourite paintings, Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’. I’m blown away!
The original painting, completed in 1642, depicts a group portrait of a division of Amsterdam’s civic guard — the Kloveniers militia.
The men are getting into formation, and their captain, Frans Banninck Cocq (dressed in black with a red sash), is telling his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch (dressed in yellow with a white sash) to start out on the march.
The kloveniers took on their name in 1522 — when they exchanged foot bows for primitive guns that were called ‘kloveren’ (from the French ‘couleuvrine’). This was a type of musket. Hence you can think of the Kloveniers as musketeers.
The painting was controversial because of the way Rembrandt depicted the group’s members. Rather than giving each of them equal prominence, he created the painter’s equivalent of a snapshot: a group of militiamen who have just moved into action and are about to march off.
My daughter told me she had a lot of problems trying to see what some of the characters in the picture were actually doing.
In particular, the man just to the left of Baninck Cocq gave her difficulty. Of course as a wargamer I knew that what she has interpreted as a front-view of a rather odd man’s head with horns and bushy hair, was in fact the side-view of a morion helmet with oak leaves – but I love her version!
We are going to get this framed for my study. And for next year, I’ve told Monique that I want her to do my other favourite painting, Philippoteaux’s The Battle of Fontenoy – now that would be a challenge!
Happy Father’s Day to my fellow male wargamers with kids!