08 January 2022, by Victoria Séveno
This week, the Rijksmuseum uploaded the most detailed image of an artwork to ever exist to its website, sharing an ultra-high-resolution photo of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch online.
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch as you’ve never seen it before
The museum says the image is the “largest and most detailed photograph of a work of art ever,” and is made up of 717 billion pixels. According to the website, the distance between each pixel measures only five micrometres, which means that one pixel is smaller than a red blood cell.
Creating the image took quite a bit of work; a 100-megapixel Hasselblad H6D 400 MS camera captured 8.439 individual images of the painting, which measures approximately 380 centimetres by 450 centimetres. The photos – measuring 5,5 by 4,1 centimetres each – were then stitched together using artificial intelligence to form one large image.
Explore the secrets of The Night Watch online in high definition
Rob Erdmann, the scientist behind the project, called it “an incredible challenge,” and explained that it took almost three years to complete. “[It’s] the first of its kind in the whole world,” Erdmann told NU. “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.“
Museum management says the image should not only make the lives of researchers and restorers easier, but also help to preserve The Night Watch for future generations. “It is a very nice detailed snapshot with which we can see in the long run how things change,” explains Katrien Keune, head of Science at the Rijksmuseum, on the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
Thumb: Erik Smits via Rijksmuseum.