Computer Generated 'Rembrandt' Painting Unveiled in Amsterdam

By Kim Bussing on May 9, 2016

CCSS NCSS-1 Word Search
The Next Rembrandt (Photo Credit: thenextrembrandt.com)

A new “Rembrandt” painting unveiled in Amsterdam in early April is making headlines around the world. However, the authentic-looking masterpiece is not the work of the 17th-century Dutch artist. It is a brand new painting that uses technology to mimic Rembrandt’s technique so perfectly, that it could easily be mistaken for one created by the great artist himself.

The clever forgery that took 18 months to complete is the result of a collaboration between Netherland’s ING Bank, tech giant Microsoft, local advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, and art experts from Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), The Mauritshuis and Museum Het Rembrandthuis. Called the “Next Rembrandt,” it uses data and technology to resurrect one of the greatest artists of all times.

Data collected from Rembrandt’s paintings (Photo Credit: thenextrembrandt.com)

The team began by collecting data from the Dutch artist’s 346 paintings to help them emulate his technique, choice of color, structure, texture, and topic, as closely as possible. They then used facial recognition software and a unique deep learning algorithm to analyze the individual features of his style — things like painting strokes, the artist’s angle of choice, etc.

During their analysis, the researchers were able to collect a significant amount of data on Rembrandt's typical portraits of Caucasian males with black suits, white collars, and whiskers. More data meant the computer software could mimic the artist’s style better, which is why the team settled on creating a portrait.

Once the subject had been determined, a proprietary software system and facial recognition algorithm gathered information about Rembrandt's style based on his use of geometry, composition, and choice of paint colors. The data was then used to replicate the artist’s style and generate the facial features for the “Next Rembrandt.”

Photo Credit: thenextrembrandt.com

Once ready, the individual elements were put together to form the face and the bust in the same proportions as the original paintings created by the Dutch artist. The team then used technology to add depth and texture to the 2D image. Once ready, a 3D printer was used to bring the “Next Rembrandt,” – A portrait of a white male between 30 and 40 years old, wearing black clothes, a white collar, and hat — to life. Comprising of 148 million pixels and 13 layers of UV ink, the “painting” is a clever forgery that could easily be mistaken for an original Rembrandt — At least to the untrained eye.

J. Walter Thompson’s executive creative director, Bas Korsten, says the goal of the project was to start a discussion about how data and technology could become an essential part of the art world. While the project did receive some criticism from a few experts, many art historians, including Rembrandt experts from The Mauritshuis in The Hague (the museum where Rembrandt’s last painting is exhibited) and Museum Het Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam, were incredibly supportive. They even acted as advisors to ensure that the “Next Rembrandt” would be a masterpiece — One that even the famous Dutch artist would be proud of.

Photo Credit: thenextrembrandt.com

Born in Amsterdam in 1606, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is one of the world’s most renowned artists. The prolific painter was famous for his portraits thanks to his ability to capture realistic emotions. Unfortunately, like many artists of his time, Rembrandt's talents were not recognized during this lifetime. The artist died penniless in 1669, after suffering through many years of hardship.

Resources: livescience.com, metmuseum.org, thenextrembrandt.com

Listen to the Article: Play Audio

Create MLA, Chicago, or APA Website Citation

Create a website citation for this article. We support MLA8, MLA7, APA, and Chicago citation formats.

VocabularyPlay Game

algorithmauthenticcaucasiancollaborationcompositioncriticismemulateforgerymimicpixelsprolificproprietaryreplicateresurrectsignificanttechniquetexture
Name:
Date:

Reading Comprehension (3 questions)

  1. What is different about the newly unveiled Rembrandt painting?
  2. How long did it take to create?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Do you think using technology to forge the art of famous painters is a...

Vocabulary in Context

“The data was then used to replicate the artist’s style and generate the facial features for the “Next Rembrandt.””

In the above sentence, the word ...

140 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • primrena Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 8:31 am
    so cool
    • primrena the prThursday, May 11, 2017 at 8:30 am
      cool I do love art
      • ZMWTuesday, September 6, 2016 at 6:45 pm
        That's butiful art
        • akeiraTuesday, September 6, 2016 at 5:56 am
          they will draw one of me ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
          • dictionary
            dictionaryFriday, August 5, 2016 at 9:00 pm
            I could never draw like that -_-
            • melThursday, June 2, 2016 at 9:16 am
              cool
              • magickitten
                magickittenFriday, May 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm
                How long did this painting take???????? Please follow me!
                • WUNICORN Friday, May 20, 2016 at 7:55 am
                  They should not do this because soon you will not be able to tell if one or the other is real or not, and paintings could be stolen more easily for example if "Starry Night" was stolen and replaced with a computer generated one and no one would notice!!!!
                  • peachz
                    peachzTuesday, May 31, 2016 at 6:00 am
                    So true, WUICRON , so true.
                  • zuleycaThursday, May 19, 2016 at 9:21 am
                    wow cool
                    • ArtLoverWednesday, May 18, 2016 at 5:07 pm
                      So cool!! Wish they could make more paintings like this!
                      • magickitten
                        magickittenWednesday, May 25, 2016 at 11:30 am
                        +ArtLover IKR!!
                        • skwosolsso
                          skwosolssoMonday, May 30, 2016 at 6:05 am
                          I know right**

                      Recent Comments

                      Rayan wrote:

                      This looks good
                      This Turtle Is Soooooooooooo Cute!

                      Rayan wrote:

                      I wish I was a whale
                      Humpback Calves "Whisper" To The...

                      Me wrote:

                      I can not believe that!!😀😁😂
                      Video Of The Week — Talented Bea...

                      Our Apps and Plugins

                      ALA