January 15, 2009  |  Uncategorized

Rogier van der Weyden’s “Descent of Christ from the Cross” in Google Earth wide-angle…

It was only a matter of time before you could use online spy tool GOOGLE EARTH for more than trying to catch a look at your neighbor sunbathing topless. Now, using the satellite-viewing tool, users can zoom in on some of the art world’s most profound treasures in excruciating detail. Partnering up with the vaunted PRADO MUSEUM in Madrid as a collaborative starting point, Google has photographed 14 of the institutions masterworks including Rubens’ “The Three Graces,” and Velazquez’s “Las Meninas,” in ultra high resolution revealing minute details rarely detected by viewers, all of which are now viewable online through the search engine. Hieronymous Bosch’s legendary “Garden of Earthly Delights,” was photographed 1,600 times, and each photo was digitally stitched together to create flawless digital version of the masterwork. Said Clara Ribera, of Google Spain, “It’s a unique vision. In the museum we cannot get this close to a painting; if we did we’d need a three-metre-high ladder to get these views.” As a measure of definition, Google’s first collaboration of its kind with an art museum, the images being presented on Google Earth are 1,400 times clearer than anything the average 10-megapixel camera could render. Prado director Miguel Zagaza said, “There is no better way of paying tribute to the great masters than to universalise their art, and make it accessible to the greatest number of people. An image is no substitute for the direct experience of the work, but these actual-sized reproductions offer prodigious realism.” Google already has its sights set on a number of other high-profile artworks in museums worldwide and may begin expanding the collection if the pilot program is well received. To view these digital reproductions, download the Google Earth program, activate three-dimensional view and click on Prado Museum.

…and ultra-close up detail.

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