Explore Rembrandt’s Famous Painting “The Night Watch” in New 717-Gigapixel Photo

Explore Rembrandt’s Famous Painting “The Night Watch” in New 717-Gigapixel Photo

“The Night Watch,” or “The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburgh,” by Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

Rembrandt van Rijn is perhaps the most well-known of the Dutch Masters. During the Golden Age of the Netherlands, his expressive brushwork conjured realistic scenes and expressive portraits. The Night Watch is chief among his masterpieces. The iconic painting is a 12-by-14-foot canvas illustrating 34 figures of an early modern militia. Now, this monumental work can be explored in microscopic detail through a 717-gigapixel photograph of the work.

Created by the Rijksmuseum—where the painting currently resides—the photo is itself a work of art. Created in 1642, The Night Watch was a commission by Captain Banninck Cocq, the gentleman in the red sash. Its digital representation was created from 8,439 individual images stitched and layered. The individual pixels are almost as detailed as the original brush strokes. Each pixel is less than 0.0002 inches from its fellows, and each pixel is the size of a blood cell.

Zoom into the masterwork and you will notice each individual brushstroke, as well as the spidery pattern of paint drying on canvas. The photograph even restores edges of the painting which had been previously lost. The painting was restored as part of Operation Night Watch, a project which introduced the public to the process of art conservation. This is not the painting's first restoration. In the 1940s, a dark varnish which had long covered the original paint was removed. This altered the interpretation of the painting, as scholars had long believed the darkness indicated a night scene.

You can explore the restored masterpiece for yourself and see what you can find in the image.

Explore Rembrandt’s famous painting The Night Watch in a new 717-gigapixel photo from the Rijksmuseum.

Rembrandt's The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum

Detail from Rembrandt's 717-gigapixel “The Night Watch” at the Rijksmuseum. (Photo: Detail screenshot via the Rijksmuseum)

h/t: [Open Culture]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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