Researchers at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam have achieved a milestone in the reproduction of works of art, generating the most detailed (and largest) digital image in the history of a canvas. Specifically, the Dutch art museum has published a 717 gigapixel image (which translates to 5.6 TB in weight) of Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’.
This image is available to any user on the museum’s website and is four times sharper than the previous photo of the same painting, published a year and a half ago: now, with its 717,000 million pixels (each pixel in the photo is smaller than a human red blood cell) allows us to carry out endless ‘zooms’ after which we will be able to appreciate in total detail the smallest particle of pigments used by the Dutch master to paint his famous painting.
To complete the construction of this image, individual 5.5 cm x 4.1 cm photos (and a depth of field of only 125 microns) were taken with a 100 megapixel camera, photos that were later assembled together using artificial intelligence software…
… which had previously verified that each individual photo had the appropriate color and sharpness (to ensure the latter, the surface of the painting had been laser scanned first).
“Creating this image has been an incredible challenge. Many thought it was impossible and they called the team members crazy. This is surely a worldwide achievement, “said Robert Erdmann, senior scientist at the Rijksmuseum.
Among the advances that will allow the elaboration of this gigantic image are the possibility of trace with great precision all future aging processes of the frame, as well as resorting to neural networks to trace similarities between the different pigment particles, something that was still impossible with the previous photograph.
Now, as of next January 19, the second phase of the ‘Operation Night Watch’ will begin, in which restoration tasks of the painting will be carried out, starting by re-tensioning the canvas to solve the deformations detected during the taking of the photo (Others, in the upper left corner, were previously visible to the naked eye).
‘Night watch’ is the name given to the painting before its first restoration showed that it is not a night scene
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It is not the first time that AI shows us the painting in all its splendor
It is not the first time, however, that artificial intelligence helps to appreciate ‘The Night Watch’ in all its splendor: and it is that, less than forty years after the death of its author, Amsterdam city council decided to mutilate the work to make it fit better in the new assigned location, thus eliminating several of the characters from the scene.
From the different copies made before 1715, the original scene could be reconstructed … and artificial intelligence applied to the new figures a technique and lines comparable to those of Rembrandt, allowing it to be exposed by fitting the surviving canvas into a frame that adds AI reconstruction: