Astounding Detail: A 10 Billion Pixel Panorama of Vermeer’s ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’

Emilien Leonhardt and Vincent Sabatier from Hirox Europe last year took part in an incredible project: they photographed Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” at an incredible resolution to allow anyone to see the painting down to the level of 4.4-microns per pixel.

The project was undertaken in order to evaluate the surface condition of the painting, measure cracks, and see the topography of various key areas while assessing past restorations.

With their specialized equipment, the duo made what Leonhardt describes as the first 10 billion pixel panorama (93,205 x 108,565). That equates to about 10,118 megapixels.

Overnight, 9,100 photos were automatically captured and stitched together to form one finished panorama image where one pixel equals 4.4 microns. The resulting detail is truly extraordinary.

Below is the full painting:

This is a closeup of one of her eyes:

And this is an even closer view of that same area:

The Hirox 3D microscope can be given certain parameters and then will set out to autofocus and capture detailed images of an area and then output a finished, correctly-focused final image. This image can then be used to give researchers and art historians an incredibly clear image of particular areas of a painting.

Leonhardt and Sabatier specifically targeted 10 key areas which were captured in even greater, super-high-resolution to create 3D stitched images of the surfaces, where 1 pixel equaled 1.1 microns. That 3D image can be used to then measure the topography of the painting in those key areas to actually see the height differences of the paint as compared to one another.

The entire painting panorama is available to view full-screen on a website set up by the duo, and the 10 individual key areas that were further analyzed allow for even closer zoom are included. The full 3D maps of those areas are also available on the website.