Madpixel, an interactive design and development company in Spain, toiled with pixels for months in collaboration with Google and the Museo Nacional del Prado. They photographed 14 classical paintings at gigapixel (one billion pixels *) resolution. Using new methodologies, but old technology — a Nikon D200, motion-control rig, and stitching software — the art is now “one hundred and thousand times greater than the one of a normal digital camera,” says the Madpixel blog (translated from Spanish by Babelfish). “This level of resolution allows us to deepen in enormous measurement in linen cloths, being able to get to appreciate even the subtlest details of the work.”
The museum’s press release notes that “[w]ith this high level resolution you are able to see fine details such as the tiny bee on a flower in The Three Graces by Rubens, delicate tears on the faces of the figures in The Descent from the Cross by Roger van der Weyden and complex figures in The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.”
Technology triumph aside, I personally prefer to experience paintings in person.
* Both Google and The Prado Museum refer to a gigapixel as “14,000 million pixels (14 gigapixels).” Madpixel and Wikipedia more clearly define gigapixels in terms of billions; in this case, 14 gigapixel is 13,950,842,452 pixels (about fourteen billion pixels.)