'The Night Watch' is a schuttersstuk: an art form in painting commonly known in the Low Countries during the 16th and 17th Centuries. It derives its name from the former civil guards of the cities, the Schutterij. The city of Amsterdam owns about 57 of these paintings, the oldest dating from 1529. 'The Night Watch', by Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, is the most famous.
Rembrandt completed his painting of 'The Night Watch' in 1642. The civil guards under the command of Captain Frans Banning Cocq had ordered its painting in 1638, to decorate a wall of the main hall on the first floor in the new headquarters of the city's Schutterij at the Kloveniers Voorburgwal1.
Rembrandt's painting shows just one of the companies of the civil guards of the city of Amsterdam. Frans Banning Cocq was the captain of the company of the second district of the city, the area just on the east and north side of the Damrak where the merchants in linen lived.
Traditionally the city's civil guards comprised volunteers. Their tasks were to maintain order within the city walls, act as a fire brigade and, in times of war, to defend the city against enemy attack.
Like all other workers and artisans they were organised in an association under the patronage of a saint, usually St Sebastian or St Joris. The members had to provide for their own uniforms and arms. Each association chose its own sort of weapons.
In the Middle Ages these weapons were either hand or crossbows, pikes, axes, swords and backswords. With the introduction of gunpowder in Europe the hand and crossbows were replaced by muskets. Since only the rich could afford to by buy firearms, they would become the members of the civil guards.The civil guards would practise their skills at shooting on the Doelen2. This was originally the name of a field outside the city walls, situated in the east - as the area on the west was reserved for the windmills. Every year, a competition took place on the Doelen, or at a church if the weather was bad. A wooden parrot on a pole served as target. The champion bowman or musketeer would be crowned 'King'. Afterwards the members would feast on a sumptuous meal and drink huge quantities of beer and wine. The civil guards were notorious for their parties. In 1551, a competition in the city of Naarden, twenty kilometers east of Amsterdam, resulted in the looting and plunder of a monastery inside the city walls by drunken members of the civil guards.
Members of the Night Watch
In 1642, Amsterdam had become a prosperous and fast growing city. It benefited greatly from the Eighty Years War (1568 – 1648). Although Amsterdam was rich, it also meant there were plenty of poor. The city's authorities prevented the poor from becoming members of the guards by ruling that every guard had to earn an annual income of 600 guilders or more. Nevertheless, the city's authorities were regularly faced with complaints about disorderly behaviour in public by drunken civil guards.
One official document from Rembrandt's time proclaims that it was forbidden for civil guards to fight, swear and to visit pubs or brothels while on duty.Membership of one of civil guards companies meant social prestige and political power for the merchants from the second district of Amsterdam. The 18 members under the command of Frans Banning Cocq each paid Rembrandt 100 guilders to become immortalised in paint. The two officers, Captain Frans Banning Cocq and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruijtenburch, probably paid more. Their names are painted on the shield that seems to be chiselled on the wall in the background of the painting.
Still, only seven members of the Company of Civil Guards of Frans Banning Cocq can be identified by official documents, by the clothes they wear and by the weapons they carry in the painting.The two officers are painted in the centre. For Frans Banning Cocq, being a captain of the civil guards meant a step forward in his political career. He would become the burgomaster of the city of Amsterdam for the first time in 1650. He is clothed in black, the dress code of the ruling classes of the city. He was the only son of the pharmacist Cocq who had married a girl of the rich Banning family. Frans Banning Cocq studied law in France and married Maria Overlander. She was the only surviving child of Volckert Overlander - merchant, ship owner, knight, one of the founders of the Dutch East Trading Company and a few times burgomaster of Amsterdam. After his father-in-law's death, Banning Cocq inherited his properties north of Amsterdam, with the title of Lord of Purmerend and Ilpendam.
Next to Frans Banning Cocq stands Lieutenant Willem van Ruijtenburch van Vlaerding. He is painted in profile and much smaller than the captain. Lesser in rank, his wealth is stressed by the richness of the yellow colour of his clothes. The rim of his jacket bears the arms of the city. Willem van Ruijtenburch came from a family of storekeepers. In 1642, he became a schepen - a councillor. He owned a palace on Herengracht in Amsterdam and his family bought an estate near the city of Vlaardingen together with a title from the aristocratic family Ligne-Arenberg.At the back of the painting stands the flag-bearer. It was important that he would cut a fine figure during official ceremonies and parades. Therefore the man had to be young, strong and handsome. Because of the vulnerable position of flag-bearer in times of war he was also requested to remain a bachelor. Jan Cornelisz Visscher never married. He came from a rich merchant family. He lived together with his mother and grandmother at the Nieuwezijds Achterburgwal spending his family's fortune on books and art. He died in 1650 at the age of forty, without ever having been near a battlefield and having lived a life of leisure.
The two sergeants of the company are painted on the left and right sides of the painting and can be recognised by their weapons. They both carry a hellebaard, an axe on a long pole. On the right, next to the drummer, Jacob Jorisz, stands Sergeant Rombout Kemp in front of a row of pikes. He was a merchant in linen, the dean of the Dutch Reformed Church and regent of the poorhouses of Amsterdam. As befitted his social position in society, he's also dressed in black with a white collar. On the left of the painting, sitting on a low wall, is the other sergeant, Rijer Engelen, another merchant in linen. In front of him stands Herman Wormskerck. He's wearing a hat and is also a merchant in linen. He is holding up a backsword.
With the money Rembrandt received from the civil guards for painting 'The Night Watch', he and his wife, Saskia van Uylenburgh, bought a house in a newly built district in Amsterdam, on the Jodenbreestraat. He painted 'The Night Watch' on a scaffold in the back yard of their new home because it was too big to lean against a wall of one of the rooms in the house. According to the Rembrandt Research Project (which started in 1968 and was concluded in the 1990s) 'The Night Watch' is painted solely by the master himself without the help of one of his many pupils.
In the year 1642, the year Rembrandt finished the painting, his wife died. Behind the musketeer on the left who is loading his weapon with gunpowder, a little girl emerges clad in white with a chicken dangling from her belt. She's talking to the boy who fires a musket just behind the ear of Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenburch. Rembrandt painted his wife's features on the girl's face.
Rembrandt painted himself as well. A part of his face emerges behind the shoulder of the pikesman on the back of the painting who holds up his pike, pointing towards Sergeant Rombout Kemp. Rembrandt seems to be standing under the archway on his toes, trying to have a better look at his own painting.
1 Klovenier is a name derived from Kolven, a firearm like the musket. Klovenier therefore meant musketeer or rifleman.
2 Doelen means goal or target. It would also be the name of the building where the civil guards would gather socially. One of the members of the company of Frans Banning Cocq was Jan Adriaensen Keyser, a merchant in wine and the publican of the doelen of the bowmen. Doelen is a name still commonly found in the names of Dutch streets and public buildings.
數天之後 中時人間副刊(20080821)鄭治桂 的
林布蘭（Rembrandt van Rijn，生於1606年，死於1669年）的名畫「夜巡」（Night watch）拍成了電影，一部關於「光」與「暗」的電影。這張畫，畫的其實是白天，但從來沒有人懷疑過它是一張關於「夜晚」的畫；如同畫裡那舞台般的黑暗 與戲劇的光線，從來也沒有人懷疑過林布蘭是他那個巴洛克時代最了解「光」的畫家。
「廚師，大盜與他的情人」的大導演彼得格林納 威，曾經受過藝術學院正規的畫家訓練，他的電影從來都具有劇場風格與濃烈的色調，帶著懸疑的氣氛，以及強烈個人色彩的手法演繹藝劇情。2007年，格林納 威以一部「夜巡」參展威尼斯影展，又為名畫電影增添了一部令人期待的驚人之作，令人驚艷的是，這是一部企圖心遠遠超名畫家傳記的電影。藝術家導演沉潛研 究，舉出「夜巡」這張畫超過50個疑點，進而大膽指出畫中藏著一個陰謀事件，關係著一樁命案！這張畫原來是畫家的一項控訴，也是造成畫家從鼎盛的藝術生涯 跌落低谷的一個關鍵！
格林納威當然不是要拍一部懸疑推理劇，可是他釋放這一種氣氛籠罩著全劇，換得觀眾注視名畫謎團重重的眼光。逐漸的，導演把「如何」 畫出這樣一張畫的問題，轉換到「為何」會畫出這樣一張畫的暗示。他拍的是林布蘭，是他的性格，是他這個人，所以有他這些畫。觀眾跟著一幕幕場景的切換，一 段段他與眾人的衝突和做作姿態、一句句他與妻子的私語對話、一幕幕獨幕劇般的畫家獨白、囈語和髒話，看見林布蘭的孩子氣，看著他的粗俗，他的率真，他的揮 霍與他的自信與才華，他的任性與他的剛愎自用，看著他的悲傷與憤怒，他的同情與溫柔；看著他因為這些性格而一步步踏入不可自拔的命運陷阱。雖然我們知道， 林布蘭在此之後，開始失意於畫壇，遭遇破產，痛失親人，孤獨而終的命運。但電影到此為止，「夜巡」之後的結果，大家都知道了；但原因，誰願如格林納威探究 得如此興致勃勃呢。
這終究還是一張名畫的故事，牽涉畫中人物、事件，荷蘭與英國的戰爭、畫家之間的自負相輕、畫家與妻子的恩愛、 和女僕的慾望，電影劇終之後，除了讓畫家失落的去世妻子的名字之外，誰又能記得任何畫中人物的姓名呢（也許Angel？）？這一部只突出了畫家主角個人的 「非劇情片」，眾多人名與人物關係已經形成了閱聽本片吃重的考驗！
那些卻是導演的障眼法，厲害！所有看得見的問題都不是答案，彼 得格林納威用了林布蘭同樣的障眼法！張開雙眼的觀眾，也許會一時懷疑自己的感性，但誰若能不明就裡的去讚嘆林布蘭的「夜巡」畫中那種攫住你眼神的懸疑感， 誰也就能欣賞格林納威的「夜視」（Nightwatching）這部片子轉譯畫家觀看黑暗之眼的調階。這絕對是一部喜好挑戰圖像語彙混合劇場語言的解碼智 力，於不疑處有疑的知性觀眾不能錯過的過癮極品；這也是一部不耐狂記人名與對白，無心緊追細節，於有疑處不疑的感官型觀眾，置身林布蘭畫室光影中的巴洛克 視覺饗宴。
從片名「Nightwatching」可以知道這是一部關於「看」的電影。導演切換著舞台劇般的場景和畫面以取代劇情 的線性敘述，把原先就不「存在」的完整真相，和關於「夜巡」的散漫線索，以巴洛克的畫家的手法混融（painterly）起來。如果說格林納威敘述故事的 手法既主觀且帶著偏執的手法，這部「夜巡」受觀眾殷切期盼，不僅僅是由於導演的盛名，更由於林布蘭這位17世紀的荷蘭畫家，本身就是一位把畫室當成舞台， 將人物角色放置在戲劇光線中顯現故事的一個舞台劇「導演」。這一次，畫家將謎團留在光線照見之處，讓人狐疑；卻在黑影之中藏匿了自己的一隻張開的眼睛，等待注視。而彼得格林納威則憑著自己的「畫家之眼」，透過鏡頭，看見400年前畫家注視黑暗的眼神。