Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bureaucratic vandalism in the service of interior decoration

"And anyway," Juliet said, unable to suppress her irritation with Merton, "this isn't a Rembrandt, it's a copy by Gerrit Lundens. 'The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq, after Rembrandt'. It says so."

"Exactly. I thought there was a rather delightful irony in that. The original's in the Rijksmuseum, of course. It is massive — much bigger than the Lundens copy. Did you know that early on in its life, Rembrandt's painting was cut down to fit a particular spot in the Town Hall in Amsterdam? Bureaucratic vandalism in the service of interior decoration. Wonderful!" he murmured, seemingly amused by the idea.

Juliet placed her copy of The Times between them, on the seat. She preferred to have some space between herself and Merton nowadays.

"But perhaps what you don't know," he continued, "is that in another even more delicious layer of irony, Lundens's copy was painted before the original was pruned by the good burghers of Amsterdam. And so now it is our only evidence of The Night Watch as it was actually painted — as Rembrandt intended. The counterfeit, although no deception was intended by Lundens, is in some ways truer than the real Night Watch."
— from Transcription, by Kate Atkinson.

The counterfeit truer than the original. Fancy that.

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