The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has succeeded in taking a new photo of The Night Watch that is so sharp that even the tiniest detail can be seen. This ‘ultra high resolution’ photo is published today and is also available to the public online.

    “We can see every particle of pigment and every brushstroke. We see paint that Rembrandt did not mix perfectly on his palette. We can look into a crack and see the layers of paint in it. It’s like trekking in the Grand Canyon and seeing the geological layers,” says Rob Erdmann, the mastermind behind the project.

    The photo is actually made up of 8,439 different photos taken at a distance of 13 centimeters from the painting, which measures 363 by 437 centimeters. A laser sensor determined the exact distance from the canvas for each photo. The large image has no less than 717 gigapixels (717 billion pixels), according to Erdmann a world record. “We’ve gone from ‘not enough data’ to a veritable deluge of data,” he says.

    The photo consists of 8,439 images taken from a distance of 13 centimeters © Rijksmuseum

    With special technology, for which he wrote the software himself, the photos are stitched together without the transitions being visible. That was an automated process, which gives you ‘a scientific representation of a material object’, which shows how well Rembrandt could manipulate paint. The colors you see in the photo are the true colors of the painting.

    Two years and eight months

    The whole project, according to the scientist “the first of its kind in the whole world”, took two years and eight months: two years to set it up technically, two months to shoot and six months to put all the photos together. to one image. It is the largest and most detailed photograph of a work of art ever taken. Other museums have already shown interest, Erdmann says, such as the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery in London.

    The Rijksmuseum is engaged in Operation Night Watch, a long period of research and restoration. The second phase will start on January 19. Then the canvas is stretched on a new aluminum stretcher. This is necessary because there are ripples in the top left corner.

    Every detail of the painting can be admired sharply.

    Every detail of the painting can be admired sharply. © Rijksmuseum

    The Night Watch has never been seen so close before.

    The Night Watch has never been seen so close before. © Rijksmuseum


    Leave a Reply