Google Blog: The Ghent Altarpiece: how we digitized one of the most influential artworks of all time. “Some 600 years ago, the Van Eyck brothers created one of the first large-scale oil paintings: ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.’ Due to its pioneering attention to detail and realistic portrayal of people, the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ is renowned as one of the most influential paintings ever made and a defining artwork that represents the start of the Northern Renaissance…. Now, the freshly renovated exterior panels of the Altarpiece can be explored in ultra-high resolution on Google Arts & Culture. Thanks to a partnership with the online image library of Flemish art heritage Lukas – Art in Flanders and the Cathedral of Saint-Bavo, we’ve digitized this masterpiece for future generations to explore in unprecedented detail.”
Sweden’s Nationalmuseum has released 3000 images to Wikimedia Commons. “While the Nationalmuseum building is under renovation, only a small part of the collections is accessible to the public. To provide more opportunity for people to enjoy its artworks, the museum embarked last year on a joint project with Wikimedia Sweden. As a result, high-resolution images of some 3,000 paintings from the collections are now available for download on Wikimedia Commons as public domain. This means they are part of our shared cultural heritage and can be freely used for any purpose. The images are also now zoomable, but not currently downloadable, in Nationalmuseum’s online database.”
Google has developed a new “art camera” for EXTREME close-ups of artwork. “The Art Camera is a robotic camera, custom-built to create gigapixel images faster and more easily. A robotic system steers the camera automatically from detail to detail, taking hundreds of high resolution close-ups of the painting. To make sure the focus is right on each brush stroke, it’s equipped with a laser and a sonar that—much like a bat—uses high frequency sound to measure the distance of the artwork. Once each detail is captured, our software takes the thousands of close-up shots and, like a jigsaw, stitches the pieces together into one single image.” Google has released the first group of a thousand art camera images. You can zoom right down to the brushwork and the cracks in the paint.
What a great roundup from the Museum of New Zealand blog: Get Downloading – 20 great GLAM websites for free high resolution images. GLAM, in this case, stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums.
Now available: an online archive of the UK’s public artwork. “The collection already features over 200,000 oil paintings, the UK’s entire collection, and plans to add watercolors, drawings progressively from this summer.” Note that this is an expansion of the “Your Paintings” site from the UK.
The Yale Center for British Art has released over 20,000 images into the public domain. “This new release contains a treasure trove of images of over 1,700 prints after works by J. M. W. Turner, as well as masterpieces by William Blake, Thomas Rowlandson, and others. Under Yale University’s Open Access Policy, anyone may use the Center’s digital images of public domain material without any application, authorization, or fees due to the Center or to Yale.”
Hey! search for artwork by color. Over two hundred different colors! “To develop the technology, [Alexandra] Chemla says one of her engineers, who has a PhD in mathematics, spent months studying color theory to create a color-detecting algorithm that sorts through hundreds of pixels within each image.” This search tool is a larger part of a site called ArtBinder so the artwork here may not be what you expect, but the color search works far better than I thought it would.