Each tiny, tiny, tiny part of Girl with a Pearl Earring.
January 22, 2021 4:30 AM   Subscribe

10 gigapixels of a three hundred and fifty year old painting, made up of 9,100 individual photographs of the 17" by 15" canvas. Clicking on specific sections of the individual painting to zoom in and reveal cracks, specks of dust, brush strokes, the tiny shadows cast from a heavier spot of paint in a minor section, and to try and understand some of the creative ability involved was one of the most religious experiences of my last few years. The work even allows a topographical view! I often try to get as close as possible to paintings in a museum to see in detail the work of the artist so this incredible opportunity left me breathless.

The making-of video is delightful for the care lavished upon the painting and - for me - the remarkable moment a minute in when one person carries in the canvas, frameless. What a thrill to be entrusted with that responsibility and to hold the unprotected painting!
posted by humuhumu (15 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
See also: 45 gigapixels of The Night's Watch.
posted by humuhumu at 4:37 AM on January 22 [7 favorites]


Fascinating! Thanks for the post.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:06 AM on January 22


It's cool and all, but the view of the painting zoomed out seriously reveals a very distinct linear distortion. I'm seeing pretty obvious vertical lines running down the face of the canvas. I suppose this is inherent to the process?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


Yeah, someone forgot to calibrate the light falloff of the lens and so you're seeing the outline of each photo. Maybe they'll go back and fix it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:29 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]




Wow this was cool! I too wish i could get very close to paintings to see this detail, but the museum hate that lol.
posted by FirstMateKate at 7:25 AM on January 22


Question for those that know these things -- the grey on her collar and earing have a distinct dithering or speckling as you zoom in. Is that from large pigment particles in the paint, or from a splatter-type action from the brush?
posted by bfranklin at 7:57 AM on January 22


Something I learned the other day: Girl with a Pearl Earring is not considered a portrait, since it was not intended to depict an identifiable person. It is a tronie.
posted by oulipian at 8:02 AM on January 22 [6 favorites]


...Is that from large pigment particles in the paint, or from a splatter-type action from the brush?

If you take a flat, stiff bristle brush, and tap the tip to the canvas, you can create a stipple like that. Looking closely, he's removing white paint with the bristle tips, allowing the brown beneath to peek through.

Although, looking closer, this effect seems to be all over the painting, to one degree or another, so ~shugs~
posted by Thorzdad at 8:21 AM on January 22 [2 favorites]


I love to do the sonic equivalent of this by using tools (like logic pro and anytune pro+) to slow music way down without changing its pitch. Nevertheless, I'm still unsure how exactly to differentiate between cases when this kind of process ends up being insightful, and when it is just further fetishizing canonic 'masterpieces.' I guess it depends on the observations made possible by the microscopic methods.
posted by umbĂș at 9:25 AM on January 22 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Thorzdad. That's interesting stuff!
posted by bfranklin at 9:27 AM on January 22


The woman who brings in the painting is a friend of mine. She's a curator in the Mauritshuis.

A couple of years ago she worked on an examination of the painting, here's her blog: Girl With a Blog

As an aside, I don't think that painting's even the best one in that room. The View of Delft is on the opposite wall.
posted by daveje at 11:09 AM on January 22 [9 favorites]


I love to do the sonic equivalent of this by using tools (like logic pro and anytune pro+) to slow music way down without changing its pitch.

You can approximate this with granular synthesis. It's not truly the same thing as what you're describing (it's a form of synthesis, so it's simulating the effect) but it's the closest thing I can think of. It produces some pretty stunning effects, especially with music that's rich in timbre and variation.
posted by treepour at 12:34 PM on January 22


> A couple of years ago she worked on an examination of the painting, here's her blog: Girl With a Blog

This is amazing! So much detail here. This must be one of the most forensically studied paintings ever.
posted by humuhumu at 2:44 PM on January 22


There are some paint speckles that seems to bridge above some cracks - are those original, or results of restoration work?
posted by ymgve at 11:03 AM on January 23


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