Artificial Intelligence: AI Simulates Long Lost Portions of Rembrandt’s Masterpiece

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Sections on all four sides of Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” were cut off in the 18th century to make the painting fit a wall.

Rembrandt’s famed masterpiece, “The Night Watch,” an icon of the Netherlands that hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, is not the whole work as painted by the artist. In 1715, sections of varying widths were cut off from all sides of the painting to fit on a wall between two doors in the city’s Town Hall. The massive painting, now sized about 15 feet wide by 13 feet high, occupies pride of place in the Rijksmuseum. However, using AI, the public can now see the work nearly whole, and as intended by Rembrandt when he painted it in 1642. (The New York Times)

Recreating Rembrandt’s Masterpiece – pixel by pixel

The sections snipped off from the original painting have been long lost, but fortunately, a copy of the original “Night Watch” was made by 17th-century Dutch painter Gerrit Lundens within about 12 years of the original painting, before it was trimmed.

Rembrandt’s masterpiece features a large group of Amsterdam’s civic guards led by Capt Frans Banninck Cocq and his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch.

Rijksmuseum’s senior scientist, Robert Erdmann, deployed high-tech methods such as scanning technologies and artificial intelligence to reconstruct the missing portions of the painting. Using an artificial intelligence technology called convolutional neural networks (CNN), Erdmann trained a computer to recreate the snipped-off sections using Lundens’ painting as a reference point.

Commencing 2019, as part of a multi-million-dollar multiyear restoration project, the museum first made high-resolution scans of “The Night Watch.” These scans were used by the AI algorithm for information on the colors and details in the original painting to be used on the simulations of the missing sections.

The images created by the algorithms were then printed on canvas, mounted atop metal plates, and varnished to give the impression of a painting.

These sections were then hung next to the painting to recreate the impression of the original work by Rembrandt.

Museum director Taco Dibbits had this to say after the restoration: “You really get the physical feeling that Banninck Cocq and his colleagues walk towards you.”

Related Story:   AI Reveals Two Near-Identical Hands Behind Dead Sea Scrolls

Image Credit: Flickr                                                

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