The Dutch are forerunners once again. This time, they created no less than the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of artwork by melting technology and art.
Senior scientist at the Rijksmuseum, Rob Erdmann, tells NU.nl that the photo of Rembrandt’s largest painting operates as a “virtual, always available microscope” for other scientists and the public to use — pretty cool, huh?
Published just this morning, the ultra-high-resolution photo is now available on the Rijksmuseum’s website. 😱
A whole landscape of paint and brushstrokes
The image you’ll see on the museum’s website is, in fact, not one photo.
Rather, it’s a series of no less than 8,439 individual photos measuring 5.5 x 4.1 centimetres each. Every photo was meticulously taken at an exact distance of 13 centimetres from the priceless painting and subsequently “stitched together” using artificial intelligence.
According to Erdmann, who wrote the software himself, the technology provides “a scientific rendering of a material object that shows how well Rembrandt could manipulate paint.”
He elaborates: “We can see every particle of pigment and every brushstroke. We can see paint that Rembrandt didn’t mix perfectly on his palette. We can look into a crack and see the layers of paint in it. It’s like trekking in the Grand Canyon and seeing the geological layers.”
Operation Night Watch
The ultra-high-resolution photo was taken as part of the Rijksmusem’s ‘Operation Night Watch‘ — a several years long research and conservation project that continues in 2022.
However, the 5.6 terabyte photo wasn’t just casually taken. It took two years and eight months to make the whole thing. 🤯 Breaking it up, it took two years to prepare the technology, two months to capture the original painting, and six months to combine the individual photos.
No wonder museums like the Met in New York and the National Gallery in London have already showed interest in the Rijksmuseum’s work.
Have you already viewed the new photo of Rembrand’s masterpiece? What do you think? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Rijksmuseum/Press Release