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Explore Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ in Astounding Detail in an Interactive 717-Gigapixel Photo

January 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Rijksmuseum

Totaling a whopping 717 gigapixels, a new photo of Rembrandt’s 1642 painting “The Night Watch” unveils an astounding array of minuscule details and precise artistic choices behind the Dutch Golden Age masterpiece. A team at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, which is currently housing the art historical work, captured 8,439 individual images to create the gigantic composite that leaves just 0.0002 inches between each pixel, which themselves are smaller than a red blood cell.

One of Rembrandt’s most iconic works, “The Night Watch”—its formal titles include “Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq” and “The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch”—stretches 11.91 x 14.34 feet and is evidence of the artist’s famed use of light and shadow and ability to imbue movement into the cast of nearly life-size characters. Rijksmuseum’s composite now shows the cracked texture of the paint, brushstrokes, and slight pigment variations that wouldn’t be visible even if you were standing in front of the work itself. Zoom in on hard-to-see spots like the blurred fur of a reactive dog, the gleaming light that bounces off guns and the figures’ ornamental clothing, and the gray-blue tones underlying the captain’s facial features. The magnifiable image also retains evidence of the damage done by a knife gash in 1975.

In addition to this project, the team used artificial intelligence to restore pieces that had been cut off the original painting in 1715, including two shooters on the left side and part of a soldier’s helmet on the right. You also might enjoy this 10 billion pixel panorama of Vermeer’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” (via New Atlas)

 

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