Last year, researchers released records from nearly two years of analysis of Johannes Vermeer’s most-recognized artwork, “Girl With a Pearl Earring.” While their findings didn’t include the subject’s highly sought-after identity, they did reveal that the gray backdrop is actually a dark green curtain and that the figure has eyelashes only visible with magnification. Thanks to Emilien Leonhardt and Vincent Sabatier, of Hirox Europe, we all can study the intricacies of Vermeer’s elusive work and peer directly into the paint cracks with an interactive 10-billion pixel panorama.
The duo began the undertaking to determine the surface condition of the iconic piece after multiple restorations, measure the space between the fractured pigments, and elucidate the artist’s technique. Using a custom microscope, Leonhardt and Sabatier took 9,100 photographs of the painting that were then woven together into the massive panorama. It reveals particulars down to 4.4-microns per pixel.