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Manhood, Marriage, and MischiefRembrandt's 'Night Watch' and Other Dutch Group Portraits$
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Harry Berger

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225569

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823225569.001.0001

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The Night Watch: How the Sandbank Crumbles

The Night Watch: How the Sandbank Crumbles

(p.177) 12 The Night Watch: How the Sandbank Crumbles
Manhood, Marriage, and Mischief

Harry Berger Jr.

Fordham University Press

The most famous and certainly the weirdest of all shooter portraits, the one that most fully tests the limits of disaggregation, was not originally known as The Night Watch. It acquired that title in the late eighteenth century, partly because the picture had darkened and partly because by then night patrol was virtually the only function the militias still performed. It contains a full yard-sale display of costumes and props like those in Rembrandt's storeroom, as well as antique clothes and armor that belonged to the identified sitters. These two passages are the source of the myth that The Night Watch was considered a failure when it first appeared and that it was rejected by those who paid and sat for it. Modern commentators have routinely, though at times nervously, mentioned and dismissed the story.

Keywords:   The Night Watch, Rembrandt, portraits, disaggregation, militias

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