Why do we see TWO girls on Rembrandt’s Night Watch?

Rembrandt. Night watch

The most mysterious character in Rembrandt‘s Night Watch (1642) is, of course, a girl in a golden dress with a chicken carcass hanging from her belt.

It is still not known exactly what she is doing among the shooters of Amsterdam. They all commissioned a group portrait and paid for it.

But no girl naturally participated in this. So who is she?

I will share my version.

It was the second girl that pushed me to it.

The fact is that when approaching, we can see behind the back of the heroine in a golden dress another girl in a blue dress!

Rembrandt. Night Watch (the Girl)
Rembrandt. Night Watch (detail). 1642. Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Rijksmuseum.com.

We see only part of her figure, as well as part of her face.

She also has blonde hair and a headband. We see her ear and closed eye. She is clearly looking down at her feet.

Rembrandt. Night Watch (two girls)

When I first saw this girl, I realized: it was important for Rembrandt to create the illusion of a sudden performance of shooters! He did not want to depict his customers in the form of frozen idols, posing favorably. He wanted dynamics and complex angles.

After all, the task of the shooters was to protect the city in the event of an external attack. They should be ready to assemble quickly and speak out if necessary.

And just such a scene was created by Rembrandt. As if such a moment has come! It was necessary to act urgently to protect the city.

And this performance was so sudden that NOT all the inhabitants had time to scatter in different directions.

Here are two girls and found themselves quite unexpectedly in the thick of the crowd. Muskets are already being loaded around, drums are beating. And they are trying to squeeze to the edge.

Of course, the girl in gold is seen much more clearly. And, most likely, Rembrandt used her image to capture his wife. Compare with her portrait. The resemblance is obvious!

Rembrandt's wife
Rembrandt’s works. Left: Night Watch (detail). 1642. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Right: Saskia in an Arcadian costume (detail). 1635. London National Gallery. Wikimedia Commons.

And not without reason the artist signed the picture right next to the girl’s leg in gold.

Rembrandt. Night Watch (detail)


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Author: Oksana Kopenkina

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