Rembrandt snuffed it 400 years ago and has surprisingly not picked up a paintbrush since. However the computer knocked up a new masterpiece which is enough to convince experts it was painted by the same bloke — although the paint was rather fresh.
By scanning and analysing Rembrandt’s works, a computer was able to create a new painting in near-perfect mimicry of Rembrandt’s style. It has been named, appropriately, ‘The Next Rembrandt’.
Dutch financial institution ING asked the J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam advertising agency about creating a project that would show innovation in Dutch art. The creative director for J. Water Thompson, Bart Korsten, suggested getting a computer to paint like Rembrandt?”
ING, Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, the Mauritshuis in the Hague, and Museum Het Rembrandthuis assembled a team of art historians, software developers, scientists, engineers, and data analysts. The team built a software system that was capable of understanding and generating new features based on Rembrandt’s unique style.
They began by taking 3D scans of the 346 paintings by the artist and analyzing them to determine common elements shared amongst the pieces. Based on what the team saw, they felt that in order to best capture Rembrandt’s style the software should create a painting similar to his works.
The computer was told to paint a portrait of a Caucasian male with facial hair, 30-40 years old, wearing dark clothing with a hat and collar, and that he be facing to the right.
The painting consists of over 148 million pixels, based on more than 160,000 fragments of the artist’s’ works. It was 3D printed so that the texture of Rembrandt’s brush strokes could also be captured. The final result is a painting that looks exactly like an original Rembrandt.