Rembrandt's Night Watch to be 3D-scanned before restoration
The investigation prior to the restoration of Rembrandt van Rijn's masterpiece Night Watch is nearly done. This week the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam teamed up with TU Delft to start 3D scanning the painting, to meticulously map out the entire surface. This is to get to know the "topography" of the canvas, and to create a baseline measurement to be able to see possible changes on the 1642 painting in the future, Robert van Langh of the Rijksmuseum said to ANP.
The 3D scan is expected to take about a month. The Night Watch will be fully captured in three dimensions, piece by piece, in parts measuring 13 cm wide and 10 cm high. About 2,500 high-resolution scans will be made with the help of three cameras and a projector, mounted on a special construction.
Van Langh believes the way in which the Rijksmuseum is carrying out this restoration of the Night Watch will bring about a cultural change in the museum world. "This will be our new way of working," he said to ANP. "First do all the necessary research, then assess it and determine your step-by-step plan for the restoration."
According to Van Lang, many restorers still rely mostly on their own knowledge and experience when they get started. But the current technology can offer so much more information.
The 3D scan is one of the last steps in the preparations for the Night Watch restoration. The results of the various studies are now last coming together and that means that a plan for the restoration can be drawn up. The actual restoration is expected to start early next year - a few months later than planned as the coronavirus delayed the studies.
The 3D scan can also be used to make a lifelike copy of the artwork, Rob Erdmann, senior scientist at the Rijksmuseum, said to the news wire. "Works of art can be stolen, cathedrals burn down. Of course you never replace the original, but it helps if you know exactly what it look like."