In the spring of 2019 a the Dutch photographer Julius Rooymans and fashion designer Hans Ubbink worked together on the project called Nachtwacht 360 to reproduce the famous painting De Nachtwacht, created in 1642 by Rembrandt van Rijn.
Both designers started the project optimistically searching for the faces of the 22 members of the rifle club, and their costumes and décor. A long search, via the Borando Studios in Prague and the famous Angel Costumes in London didn’t bring them the needed items. Soon it became clear they needed more help.
In order to resemble the original image as close as possible in a 4 by 5 meter large photograph, (international) experts were consulted. The costumes, attributes and decorations were either borrowed from collectors or recreated in realistic and authentic ways. Objects that couldn’t be traced or that Rembrandt seemed to have made up were created especially for this project, using 17-century and modern techniques.
In March 2019 Zoe Nina was asked to design all the jewelry for this project that grew bigger and bigger while working on it. The 360 approach required that all details should be cared for. Costumes were made in totality, as well as all jewelry and decorations. It was an artistic journey through history in which the challenging question was: can we create something of such high quality as the masterpieces of the golden age?
Zoe Nina worked with great precision to meet the high standards of this project. In the limited time of only 6 weeks until the photoshoot she had to gather and test materials, research the history and craftsmanship of the Golden Era, and recreate all jewelry and decoration in detail.
In her research Zoe Nina discovered that a lot of the Golden Age painters started as, or combined their work with, being a gold smith. Therefore, all jewelry in the Golden Age paintings are highly detailed. All pieces that were worn were highly symbolical as well. In the Golden Age jewelry was often changed and remade into new jewelry according to etiquette and season, and expressed function and place in hierarchy. Symbols that were used are not always traceable, but it is clear that the use of rubies, pearls and flower patterns prevailed, and patterns and symbols often occurred in trio’s probably referring to Christian trinity). There were a few items (jewelry and decoration) that couldn’t be placed in the traditions of the time, which makes Rembrandt quite a rebel or romantic, mixing his interpretation of traditions of the time with influences of the voyages to the East.
This project represents a personal journey and victory for Zoe Nina both in the limited time, the research that was involved, as well as the collaboration on such a high level with experts from all over to produce highly detailed jewelry in the Golden Age style.