CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Largest Photograph of The Night Watch Online

The Rijksmuseum published the largest and most detailed ever photograph of The Night Watch on its website. The 44.8 gigapixel image makes enables you to zoom in on individual brushstrokes and even particles of pigment in the painting.

The Rijksmuseum’s imaging team led by datascientist Robert Erdmann made this photograph of The Night Watch from a total of 528 exposures. The 24 rows of 22 pictures were stitched together digitally with the aid of neural networks. The final image is made up of 44.8 gigapixels (44,804,687,500 pixels), and the distance between each pixel is 20 micrometers (0.02 mm). This enables the scientists to study the painting in detail remotely. The image will also be used to accurately track any future ageing processes taking place in the painting.

Work on the painting resumed yesterday, Wednesday 13 May. In the otherwise empty Rijksmuseum, the researchers will recommence their study of Rembrandt’s largest painting and its current state. Although work in the glass chamber itself was interrupted for two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, the team continued work at home analyzing the research data that had already been collected.

The protocol for working in the glass chamber has been revised to conform with the guidelines set by the government and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Consequently, to ensure it is possible to maintain a minimum physical distance of 1.5 meters, no more than two people will work on the painting at any given time.

The second phase of Operation Night Watch, the restoration of the painting, has been rescheduled due to the pandemic. The initial plan was to start after summer 2020, but this is no longer feasible. It will now take place in early 2021.