Rembrandt Close Up
May 17, 2020 2:41 PM   Subscribe

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has posted an extraordinary image of Rembrandt's The Night Watch (1642) on its website. ".....Click again and you're propelled towards the outstretched hand of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. Another click, and you're face-to-face with the leader of this group of not-so-merry-men. Once more, and you can see the glint in his eye and the texture of his ginger beard. At no point does the image start to pixilate or distort, it's pin-sharp throughout. And it remains so as you continue to click, getting further and further into the painting until the Captain's paint-cracked eyeball is the size of a fist, and you realise that tiny glint you first saw isn't the result of one dab of Rembrandt's brush, but four separate applications, each loaded with a slightly different shade of paint."
posted by storybored (18 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooh! Very cool to zoom around the painting looking at all the wonderful details in extreme close up. I also enjoyed all of the fun tidbits in the article about the history of the painting and its various restorations.
posted by merriment at 2:56 PM on May 17


... "you realise that tiny glint you first saw isn't the result of one dab of Rembrandt's brush, but four separate applications, each loaded with a slightly different shade of paint."

This is amazing! While you don't get the sense of scale that you would seeing it in person, this level of detail is fantastic and likely what you could see if you visited it in the museum. Thanks for sharing this!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:30 PM on May 17


One of the things I'm looking forward to about the improvement of VR headsets is that at some point virtual art gallery tours will actually become pretty decent! Still not the real thing, of course, but they'll be far superior to seeing them in a printed book.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:36 PM on May 17


Echoing a comment i made on hn, don't miss also http://boschproject.org/
which uses the hyper-resolution.org technology with the works of Hieronymus Bosch, adding super high-res images beyond visible light, with a "curtain" effect.

Hard to explain but fascinating stuff.
posted by colinprince at 3:42 PM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Peter Greenaway made an excellent documentary about all the real-life figures in this painting and a potential conspiracy among them, Rembrandt’s J’Accuse.
posted by migurski at 4:45 PM on May 17


Imagine making a website in 2020 and no one involved thought to use https.
posted by glonous keming at 5:01 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I've seen this painting up close and in person, some 30-odd years ago. This is truly great. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 5:26 PM on May 17


I like this. Actually I think it might be better (in some ways) than seeing the painting in a museum. I mean you couldn't really nose up to the painting in real life to see that level of detail, I don't think. I also love looking at some of the high zoom paintings on Google Arts & Culture. They might not be this level (it is hard to compare), but take this The Bedroom for instance. You can really get up close and personal with it.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:38 PM on May 17 [3 favorites]


I visited that museum a couple of years ago and my jaw dropped when I saw the size of that thing. I was familiar with the painting, but had no idea it was that huge. Now lets get a zoomable version of the other "Night Watch".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:53 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my memory is that's it's basically an entire wall in the museum. Again this is from 30+ years ago, but it's really a big painting.
posted by hippybear at 8:34 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]




I visited that museum a couple of years ago and my jaw dropped when I saw the size of that thing.
Yeah, my memory is that's it's basically an entire wall in the museum. Again this is from 30+ years ago, but it's really a big painting.
Not only is it a gigantic image, it used to be larger.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:32 AM on May 18


I like this. Actually I think it might be better (in some ways) than seeing the painting in a museum.

I love amusement park dark rides. And I have a visual impairment that results in temporary blindness from sudden changes in light levels, as well as a certain degree of plain old night blindness. I still love to experience them in person, but words fail to describe how delighted I am at the availability of ridethrough videos shot on the latest ultra-low-light cameras. This kind of reminds me of that. Seeing a magnificent painting in person is an amazing experience, but this gives you something you can't get even from that. How wonderful to live in an age with such technology.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 AM on May 18


Imagine making a website in 2020 and no one involved thought to use https.

And they forgot to watermark the image.
posted by Kiwi at 6:22 AM on May 18


It's hard to put into words for anyone who hasn't seen them in person just how small the Mona Lisa is and how very, very, very large The Night Watch is.
posted by allegedly at 7:46 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


The Rijksmuseum has a gallery walkthrough so you can see this painting for yourself in situ.

They've been closed for the crisis but re-open on June 1, with reservations only and a limited number of people. There's no tourists in Amsterdam right now so it will mainly be locals I suppose.

I agree some paintings are better seen like this than in person where you may not get a chance to put your nose up against the canvas. The only exceptions would be painters who knew how to deal with the changing light on the canvas. Caravaggio for example, and even Rembrandt.
posted by vacapinta at 11:20 AM on May 18


My first reaction was, "Ooh, I want to look at the dog!" I'm glad the author of the article felt similarly.

This is very cool.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 4:10 PM on May 18


I swear I get a bit of motion sickness when I zoom in really close. Amazing.
posted by grandiloquiet at 10:24 AM on May 19


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