Old master, remastered

23 FebExhibitions

REMB-1900-rez

Rembrandt, “The Nightwatch” (detail), 1642.

On 11 March, Te Manawa welcomes a modern ode to one of the most celebrated painters of all time, Rembrandt van Rijn.

Rembrandt Remastered is an exhibition of 57 digitally reproduced works, painstakingly “restored” to remove centuries of dirt and grime. They will appear in the Gallery building as they may have done upon first leaving the master’s studio 400 years ago.

The paintings reproduced are some of Rembrandt’s most powerful and striking works, including “The Syndics of the Amsterdam Cloth Guild”, “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp”, and “The Nightwatch”. The works are often those which are otherwise difficult to see: scattered through galleries worldwide; or from private collections, inaccessible to the public.

Rembrandt Remastered represents the culmination of work by the Rembrandt Research Project that began almost 50 years ago. Its members set out to catalogue all of Rembrandt’s works before moving on, in more recent times, to digital restoration. Combining the latest digital photography techniques with a deep knowledge of Rembrandt’s style and practice, the Project team has given these paintings new life.

Layers of varnish that made it impossible to view a painting properly have been digitally removed. “Danaë” was damaged by a vandal with a vial of acid in 1985; that damage has been restored. “The Nightwatch” had swathes of canvas sliced off it in 1715 to fit the Amsterdam Town Hall; Rembrandt Remastered makes it whole once more.

The exhibition’s images are identical in size to the original paintings – with “Nightwatch” restored to its full five-metre-wide glory. They are displayed in the order they were painted, and are accompanied by stories of the paintings and of Rembrandt himself.

This remarkable opportunity to experience Rembrandt’s world is at Te Manawa for six weeks only, from 11 March to 25 April. Admission is $8/$6.