Thursday, March 31, 2016

Van Gogh's Secret Map

Art historians at the Aprilgrap Univeristy in Utrecht have discovered a hidden map in one of Van Gogh's paintings.

The painting a 'Bedroom in Arles' depicts a room in which a number of framed pictures hang on a wall above a rickety bed. One scene depicted in these pictures has long been a mystery to art historians.

That mystery is now over. The Department of Art History at Aprilgrap University has used Google's DeepDream computer vision program to analyse the scene depicted in the Van Gogh painting. The program essentially compared Van Gogh's painting within a painting with millions of images published on the internet.

What it discovered is that a map of Amsterdam is hung above the bed in a 'Bedroom in Arles'. That's right Van Gogh was a cartographer. Or at least he did at least once draw a map of Amsterdam.

In truth it is a little hard to make out a map of Amsterdam in Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles. I therefore decided to overlay Van Gogh's 'map' of Amsterdam on a modern day map of the city.

Check out this Van Gogh Map and see what you think. You can use the slide control on the map to change the opacity of the Van Gogh image to compare it with the map underneath. I believe that you can clearly make out Amsterdam's distinctive canal system and the Het Ij river in Van Gogh's painting.

I'm convinced. Van Gogh was a cartographer!
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