Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hyper Resolution Mapped Paintings

Last week Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum released a hyper-resolution image of Rembrandt's The Night Watch. This hyper-resolution image allows you to explore Rembrandt's masterpiece in very close detail, zooming in and panning around the image just as if it was an interactive map.

On its own the new hyper-resolution image viewer allows you to get an unrivaled close-up view of the painting. However you can also use the map in conjunction with the Rijksmuseum's Masterpieces Up Close tour to learn much more about the famous painting. The audio and textual guides for The Night Watch on the Rijksmuseum website provide a detailed introduction to the painting’s history and composition.

The Night Watch, depicts the Militia Company of District II under the Command of Captain Frans Banninck Cocq. There are 17 members of the guard (and the captain) shown in the painting, each of whom paid Rembrandt 100 guilders to be included in the picture. The painting is particularly noteworthy because of its dramatic use of light and shadow and the perception of motion captured within the scene.

You can also learn more about The Night Watch on the BBC website, where Will Gompertz reviews the Rijksmuseum's high tech photo.

Creating your own interactive map from paintings is a lot easier than you might think. Many galleries and museums around the world use the IIIF format for displaying digital copies of their artworks. The IIIF format works a lot like interactive maps in that it creates a series of tiled images at different zoom levels. This means that you can use these images within a JavaScript mapping library, such as Leaflet.js.

In Teaching Art with Leaflet I used the Leaflet-IIIF plug-in to show how to map Van Gogh's painting Self-Portrait Dedicated to Gauguin. My interactive map of Van Gogh's painting provides a demo of how you can add links and markers to details within paintings when you use an interactive map library with a IIIF image manifest.

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