I captured the following images using my favorite new website, Google Art Project.
(Did you find the shepherd?)
To give an even better idea of the kind of detail you can get by zooming in on some of the images, here's Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Harvesters (1565):
See the trees and the people (specks) in the background?
Note the bathers on the left and the people playing on the right.
Slightly less detail:
(No previous photographs - especially those in books - ever gave me any indication of just how much exposed canvas there was in the painting.)
(a little kitschy) No Woman, No Cry when viewed in the dark:
(I like it because the painting becomes a landscape where two of the bather's heads are transformed into tulips.)
You can also make strange and/or humorous new paintings with the close-ups:
I call the above Homage to Kenneth Pinyan ("Mr. Hands"). It's taken from Antoine-Jean Gros's Battle of Aboukir, 25 July 1799.
The video that accompanies the above Van Gogh painting (on the Google Art Project website) recounts some interesting details concerning its restoration. (The following excerpt is taken from the Van Gogh Museum's website):
"The restoration also revealed that certain colors in the painting have been irrevocably changed. Around the edges of the painting and underneath previous filling and retouching work, traces of the original colors were discovered. These have retained their color because they were less exposed to daylight. For example, the walls and doors were originally lilac in color, a fact that Van Gogh also mentions in his letters. Traces have now been found during restoration that confirm this to be true. In the future, the Van Gogh Museum intends to conduct further research into the discoloration of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings.
The removal of the layer of varnish has brought to light a number of fascinating details. For example, light entering the room through the slightly opened shutters can now be seen on the floor. In the red bedspread and on the bed and chairs, traces of newsprint have been found. Even during Van Gogh's life, the painting became damaged by damp in his studio. To prevent the paint from flaking, Van Gogh stuck newspapers over the canvas and intended to have his brother Theo line the work (adhere a new canvas onto the reverse) to reinforce it. Research on the painting showed that this was indeed done and that the painting was relined again and extensively restored in 1931. It also emerged that during the 1931 restoration a small strip of the painting was folded over the left side of the stretcher, making it hard to read the clearly open door originally painted by Van Gogh."
My dear Theo —
At last I'm sending you a little croquis to give you at least an idea of the direction the work is taking. Because today I've gone back to it.
My eyes are still tired, but anyway I had a new idea in mind, and here's the croquis of it. No. 30 canvas once again.
This time it's simply my bedroom, but the colour has to do the job here, and through its being simplified by giving a grander style to things, to be suggestive here of rest or of sleep in general. In short, looking at the painting should rest the mind, or rather, the imagination.
The walls are of a pale violet. The floor — is of red tiles.
The bedstead and the chairs are fresh butter yellow.
The sheet and the pillows very bright lemon green.
The bedspread scarlet red.
The window green.
The dressing table orange, the basin blue.
The doors lilac.
And that's all — nothing in this bedroom, with its shutters closed.
The solidity of the furniture should also now express unshakeable repose.
Portraits on the wall, and a mirror and a hand-towel and some clothes.
The frame — as there's no white in the painting — will be white.
This to take my revenge for the enforced rest that I was obliged to take.
I'll work on it again all day tomorrow, but you can see how simple the idea is. The shadows and cast shadows are removed; it's coloured in flat, plain tints like Japanese prints.
It will contrast, for example, with the Tarascon diligence and the night café.
I won't write to you at length, because I'm going to start very early tomorrow with the fresh morning light, to finish my canvas.
How are your pains? Don't forget to give me news about them.
I hope you'll write in the next few days.
One day I'll do you some croquis of the other rooms as well.
I shake your hand firmly.