Scientists at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands have stitched together 528 photographs of one of Rembrandt’s most famous works to create an image that weighs in just shy of 45 gigapixels. You can now visit their website to zoom in far enough to see beyond even the brushstrokes.
You can click here to see the image and be prepared for a lot of zooming.
Rembrandt’s The Night Watch was painted in 1642 and was already famous for its immense size; hanging on the walls of the Dutch museum, it measures 11.91 ft × 14.34 ft (3.63 meters x 4.37 meters). The huge image file allows researchers to zoom into the painting to examine incredibly fine details, giving insights into how the aging process is having an effect.
During the restrictions in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this is incredibly useful to museum staff as it allows them to continue their research without having to visit in person. It also gives the public a chance to gain a fresh appreciation of this Rembrandt masterpiece.
Google Arts and Culture also hosts a high resolution version, though it doesn’t match up to this new composite captured using the 100-megapixel, medium format HasselbladH6D-400c, a camera that costs just under $50,000. Professor Rob Erdmann, senior scientist at the Rijksmuseum, noted on Twitter that the new version has “more than 25 times more data” and is more closely color-managed.
The Google version on the left, compared with the Rijksmuseum version on the right.
To follow the work of Operation Night Watch, the team dedicated to analyzing the painting, click here.