science

Photographers create first 10billion pixel panorama of Girl with a Pearl Earring using 3D microscope


Johannes Vermeer's 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' is one of the most famous paintings in the world

Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’ is one of the most famous paintings in the world

Johannes Vermeer’s ‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’ is one of the most famous paintings in the world for the use of light and captivate look on the woman’s face, but a new project depicts the ‘Mona Lisa of the North’ in an entirely new way.

Microscope maker Hirox used a powerful 3D device to create the first 10 billion pixel that lets art lovers zoom and explore every detail, crack and secret that Vermeer may have hidden in the piece.

The team used an electronic microscope that magnifies the surface up to 700 times and took more than 9,000 photos of the painting, allowing them to see its true colors and different elevations created by the paint.

Zooming in on the pearl earring reveals the white paint stands out like a mound surrounded surrounding by cracks, while the white in her eye reveals the realistic shading technique.

The 3D scans also revealed Vermeer painted eyelashes on the woman, which was not previously known, and identified pigments used. 

‘Girl with the Pearl Earring’ is an oil painting on canvas that was done by the Dutch artist in 1665.

It depicts a young woman wearing an exotic dress, head scarf and a very large pearl earring.

The painting is on display at the Muritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands where people from around the world travel to feast their eyes on the wondrous masterpiece.

Hirox’s Emilien Leonhardt and Vincent Sabatier wanted to take a deeper look at the painting, not only to see more details, but to better understand Vermeer’s style and work, according to Petapixel.

The microscope automatically focuses itself and snaps images of the painting, along with stitching the images together to create a panorama – a totally of 9,100 pictures. 

The 3D microscope took 9,000 images of the painting and focused on 10 key areas such as the pear earing
An up-close shot of the earring shows every little crack that surrounds the white glow on the pearl

The team used an electronic microscope that magnifies the surface up to 700 times and took more than 9,000 photos of the painting, allowing them to see its true colors and different elevations created by the paint. The scans show details of the pearl earing (pictured)

The 3D scans also revealed Vermeer painted eyelashes on the woman, which was not previously known, and identified pigments used. White led was found on the painting the originated in Northern England
The scan shows the white inside the woman's eye as a large mound surrounded by darker hues

The 3D scans also revealed Vermeer painted eyelashes on the woman, which was not previously known, and identified pigments used. White led was found on the painting the originated in Northern England. Pictured is part of the woman’s captivated eyes

There are two small yellow dots on the upper shoulder area
An up-close shows the dots are much lighter than the dress and appear to have been intricately placed

There are two small yellow dots on the upper shoulder area and up-close shows the dots are much lighter than the dress and appear to have been intricately placed

The device is capable of magnifying specific areas of the painting up to 700 times.

The team placed the artwork on a table and let the microscope go to work.

It is designed with a motor that allows it to smoothly move back and forth to capture every inch of the painting. 

‘The Hirox software is automatically moving the lens up and down with very high precision, capturing a series of images at different focus [points] and combining them in one fully-focused image,’ said Leonhardt. 

‘The motorized X/Y stage is then moving to the next position, creating a high-resolution panorama.’

Leonhardt and Sabatier targeted 10 areas of the painting to capture in super-high resolution that represented a 1.1 micron of the entire painting.

These images were used to create 3D stitched images of the surface that highlights the topography throughout painting – blue shows lower levels, while red represents the highest.

Using the 3D mode on the website created by Hirox, the white dot in the pupil grows into a mound surrounded by cracks and darker hues.

These images were used to create 3D stitched images of the surface that highlights the topography throughout painting – blue shows lower levels, while red represents the highest

These images were used to create 3D stitched images of the surface that highlights the topography throughout painting – blue shows lower levels, while red represents the highest

Users can also see the detail of the iconic pearl earring and exotic dress worn by the woman. 

There are two small yellow dots on the upper shoulder area and up-close shows the dots are much lighter than the dress and appear to have been intricately placed.

The 3D scans also revealed Vermeer painted eyelashes on the woman, which was not previously known, and identified pigments used.

Leonhardt and Sabatier were able to identify white lead that originated from Northern England, lapis lazuli ultra marine blue from Afghanistan, and cochineal red made from bugs in mexico.

Although the scan provides an incredible look at ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring,’ the project also allows historians to see the preservation of a painting and uncover any restorations.



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