Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring is one of the most famous paintings in the world. If you’ve always wanted to see it, you can visit the Mauritshuis museum in the Hag, the Netherlands. But the latest project from Hirox Europe lets you see the famous painting in a whole new way, without leaving your home. They created a 10-billion-pixel panorama that lets you zoom all the way in and explore the panting’s details, cracks, and secrets.
Emilien Leonhardt and Vincent Sabatier of Hirox Europe led the project. They used an electronic microscope to photograph the painting in so much detail, that you can zoom in down to 4.4-microns per pixel. Over the course of one night, 9,100 3D files were automatically captured and combined into a single 10-billion-pixel panorama.
Of course, the goal of the project wasn’t merely to let us have fun exploring the painting (that’s just a neat bonus). It was to learn more about Vermeer’s painting technique, to evaluate the condition of the painting’s surface, and to measure the cracks in the paint. This will help with the painting’s preservation and restoration.
As a result of the project, there are two fantastic websites that let anyone who’s interested take a peek at the famous painting from up close. On this one, you can explore the 2D painting by zooming in on any part of it. Here’s an example:
And here, you can explore the 3D views of particular parts of the painting. You can choose to see them in its true colors, or select the color scheme or a grid that shows the elevation of different parts of the painting. You can also digitally relight the details and see them in a completely new light (quite literally).