arts

You can now view every exquisite detail of this Rembrandt masterpiece virtually

Published 14th May 2020
A close up detail of a The Night Watch by Rembrandt, which is now available to view remotely in hyper-resolution.
Credit: Rijksmuseum
You can now view every exquisite detail of this Rembrandt masterpiece virtually
Written by Sara Spary, CNN
With many galleries closed to the public as the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis, a museum in the Netherlands has found a way to bring a masterpiece straight into people's homes.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has created a "hyper resolution" image of Dutch painter Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" that can be viewed online.
You can watch the restoration of an iconic painting live
The museum has created what it claims is the "largest and most detailed" photograph ever taken of the artwork, compiled using 528 individual exposures stitched together and totaling 44.8 gigapixels, allowing each brushstroke and even pigment particles to be viewed in "minute detail" when zoomed in.
The artwork -- full name "Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq" -- depicts one of Amsterdam's civil guard companies and was commissioned by its leader, Frans Banninck Cocq, who was also the city's mayor. It was completed in 1642.
Experts have been studying the masterpiece in painstaking detail ahead of a planned restoration.
The virtual image is the "largest and most detailed" photograph ever taken of the artwork, the museum said.
The virtual image is the "largest and most detailed" photograph ever taken of the artwork, the museum said. Credit: Rijksmuseum
Rijksmuseum said the new image would be a "crucial source of information" for its art researchers, enabling them to study and track any future ageing of the painting.
The restoration, called Operation Night Watch, had been due to begin this summer and be livestreamed, but will now take place in early 2021 owing to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The painting can be viewed in "minute detail" when zoomed in.
The painting can be viewed in "minute detail" when zoomed in. Credit: Rijksmuseum
Work in the glass chamber, which houses the 12.5 feet by 15 feet painting, was paused for two months.
Study of the painting has continued virtually, the museum said, with researchers returning to the building on Wednesday, maintaining social distancing.
"The Operation Night Watch research team use the very latest technologies and continually push the boundaries of what was thought possible," Taco Dibbits, director of the Rijksmuseum, said in a press release.
"The photograph is a crucial source of information for the researchers, and online visitors can use it to admire Rembrandt's masterpiece in minute detail."
CNN's Jacopo Prisco contributed to this report.