There is an interesting new painting in the world. In the Netherlands, a team of scientists, engineers, and art historians, funded by an advertising firm, has used computer programs and 3-D-printing technology to produce what, at a glance, looks very like a previously unknown early portrait, of a thirties-ish man, by Rembrandt. Having been dead for three and a half centuries, the artist could not be directly consulted on the project; but the pastischeurs figure to have done the next best thing, infusing their picture's more than a hundred and forty-eight million pixels with more than a hundred and sixty-eight thousand data points from actual paintings by Rembrandt. This was possible because the master's work has been subject to fantastic amounts and extremes of technical analysis. With all that information rattling around, someone was bound to think of something fun to do with it.
To attempt to create a program that successfully imitates the style of one of the greatest painters of all time is hubristic and doomed to fail, but those characteristics are just like catnip to the men and women at the bleeding edge of tech -- and the result of their labors is remarkable and compelling. The Next Rembrandt is the name of the project, which was sponsored by ING and Microsoft and supported by the Delft University of Technology and several museums. If you can tease the story out of the over-elaborate site on which it resides, you'll find a very cool multi-disciplinary effort that could as little do without its art historians as its image analysts. Rembrandt van Rijn's entire body of work was analyzed for useful data on color, dress, topic, demographics, composition and all the rest. The researchers found the most data for white men with the standard 17th-century loadout of black suit, white collar and whiskers.
"The first thing you notice is how opulently dressed he is," Norton Simon curator Gloria Williams Sander said. The painter was known to experiment with different personas, and here he wears a tabard, a long, sleeveless coat with a beautiful fur-lined velvet panel along the neckline. The brown and gold-striped silk sleeves carry a sheen. "It's very capacious," Williams Sander said.
Etchings are made by carving lines into a metal plate, then inking said plate and pressing it onto paper to achieve a print. Because etchings are carved and printed, rather than drawn on paper, the artist can execute highly detailed lines. In this video from Christie's, we see contemporary printmaker Alexander Massouras analyze the diversity of Rembrandt's lines and how they create different textures in the same work of art--something Rembrandt was a master at. We also get to see the etching process firsthand.
Rembrandt's genius died with him. His last painting, Simeon's Song of Praise, was an unfinished work that signalled the end of the career of the world's most famous painters ever. A team of people from organisations including ING and Microsoft have gotten together to keep the Rembrandts flowing. Using detailed scans of all of his paintings, deep learning to research bodies of work, AI to work it all out and 3D printing to execute a finale, they have created what they consider a suitable follow-up to Rembrandt van Rijn's 346 known paintings. Researching all previous paintings, there were some incredibly common themes that cropped up.