28 January 2022 / Christa Nuijs
Museum visits can be a bit of a hit-and-miss. Depending on the crowds, and the level of security, it may be hard to get the full immersive experience of a work of art. And while many museums now offer virtual tours, it is still nearly impossible to get your nose right up to the painting, to see the brush strokes, to distinguish the use of colour, application techniques and the texture of the materials. Especially with world-renowned masterpieces.
The Rijksmuseum’s Operation Night Watch is the “most wide-ranging research and conservation project in the history of Rembrandt’s masterpiece.”
One element of this project is the publication of an Ultra-High Resolution of the painting. As it mentions on their website: “This is the largest and most detailed photo ever taken of a work of art. It is 717 gigapixels, or 717,000,000,000 pixels, in size. The distance between two pixels is 5 micrometres (0.005 millimetre), which means that one pixel is smaller than a human red blood cell.
The team used a 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D 400 MS-camera to make 8439 individual photos measuring 5.5cm x 4.1cm. Artificial intelligence was used to stitch these smaller photographs together to form the final large image, with a total file size of 5.6 terabytes.”
And it truly delivers. View the delicate craquelure of the paint varnish. Zoom in on the intricate details of the clothing and research up close how impressions of colours and textures are achieved.
This breath-taking innovation is a marvellous piece of technology that we hope will be applied to many other visual projects in the future!