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The Rijksmuseum Has Released a 44.8 Gigapixel Image of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2020

Night Watch

One of Rembrandt van Rijn’s most iconic paintings The Night Watch is currently undergoing restoration at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. As part of the effort, the team took hundreds of photographs of the Dutch master’s painting and stitched them together into a massive 44.8 gigapixel image, which they have released online in a zoomable interface. The level of detail available here is incredible. Here’s the max zoom level on the right eye of the gentleman in the middle, the captain of the company that paid Rembrandt to do the painting:

Night Watch

Crazy right? You can see the brushstrokes better than if you were standing in front of the actual painting in the museum.

The Rijksmuseum’s imaging team led by datascientist Robert Erdmann made this photograph of The Night Watch from a total of 528 exposures. The 24 rows of 22 pictures were stitched together digitally with the aid of neural networks. The final image is made up of 44.8 gigapixels (44,804,687,500 pixels), and the distance between each pixel is 20 micrometres (0.02 mm). This enables the scientists to study the painting in detail remotely. The image will also be used to accurately track any future ageing processes taking place in the painting.

Ok, I told you a little fib just now. Actually, this is his eye at the true maximum zoom level:

Night Watch

Each pixel is 0.02mm across — and keep in mind that this painting is almost 12 feet high and more than 14 feet across. An astounding level of detail and a gigantic image.