Friday 05 March 2021

Rijkmuseum places most detailed ever Night Watch photo online

Photo: Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has put the most detailed ever photograph of The Night Watch online, making it possible to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and even particles of pigment in the painting.

The giant photograph is made up of 528 exposures stitched together digitally and the final image is made up of 44.8 gigapixels, with a distance between each pixel of just 20 micrometres.

‘The Operation Night Watch research team use the very latest technologies and continually push the boundaries of what was thought possible,’ museum director Taco Dibbits said. ‘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.’

At the same time, work on Operation Night Watch resumes on Wednesday in the glass chamber in the museum, although restoration itself has now been delayed until next year. This is because the glassed off area is too small to allow more than two restorers to do the work, the museum said.

Work on the 17th century masterpiece started almost a year ago when it was taken out of its frame and subjected to the most thorough probe in its existence. The aim was to ‘create the most extensive database possible with today’s technology’ the museum’s head of science, Katrien Keune said at the time.

It is not clear when the project will be finished, museum staff told the ANP press agency.  ‘We won’t rush things. This can only be done  once and it has to be done it well. We owe it to the world,’ the statement said.

The Rijksmuseum will be opening its doors on June 1 but will only accommodate 2,000 visitors a day instead of the usual 10,000.

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