What’s better than enjoying an ingenious piece of art in person? Seeing it at 717,000,000,000 pixels on a smartphone or computer screen.
Okay, that might not be completely true—but it’s certainly a distinctive experience, and one that we can thank state-of-the-art technology for. Last week the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam posted an AI-constructed, ultra-high-res image of “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt. The original piece is nearly 15 feet long and more than 12 feet high and has been under intensive restoration since the early 1900s.
As the story goes, in the 1600s Rembrandt was commissioned by the Amsterdam civic guard to create a sweeping oil painting for their headquarters. The Dutch portraitist constructed a scene with the city’s mayor and his lieutenant—plus 32 other characters, including a dressed-up young lass. The piece is thought to have been completed in 1642, and was moved to the town hall in 1715. Rembrandt was long dead at this point. Without his guidance, the new handlers decided to make a few “edits” to get the painting to their liking: They shaved off a few sections (and subjects) from each of the sides to fit and mount the canvas.