Meet Vermeer: The Google App That Lets You See All of Vermeer's Work in One Place

Johannes Vermeer, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665)
Johannes Vermeer, Girl With a Pearl Earring (1665)
Mauritshuis, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To see the full works of 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, you’ll have to whip out your phone. As The New York Times reports, Google Arts and Culture has worked with the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, Netherlands to create a virtual museum, Meet Vermeer, where you can see all of the painter's art in one visit.

The Mauritshuis is home to Vermeer's most famous painting, Girl With a Pearl Earring, but the artist's other work is held in museum collections around the world. The Meet Vermeer app draws on high-resolution photographs contributed by 18 different museums and private collections to create an augmented-reality exhibit of a wide span of Vermeer's work. The list of institutions include the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Frick Collection in New York City.

The virtual museum brings together more Vermeer paintings in one place than any physical museum would possibly be able to offer. For one thing, many of the centuries-old paintings are too fragile to travel. Some of the paintings can't be seen in person—the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum submitted an image of a painting called The Concert that was stolen from its collection in 1990. (Four of Vermeer's paintings have been stolen from museums since the 1970s, but the other three have since been recovered.)

Vermeer scholars have authenticated 36 different paintings from the artist, though he may have painted closer to 45 during his career. Only paintings that the majority of Vermeer scholars agree on are included in Meet Vermeer, since the origins of the remainder are still up for debate.

Four screenshots showing a digital art gallery in the 'Meet Vermeer' augmented reality app
Four views from the Meet Vermeer augmented reality gallery
Screenshot, Google Arts and Culture

To view the 3D walkthrough of the exhibit, you’ll need to download the Google Arts and Culture app. From there, you can click on the "Meet Vermeer" exhibit and navigate to the augmented reality feature. (Click "get started" on the tab that says "The complete work in augmented reality.") From there, you'll need to move your phone around in space a bit to get the app oriented to your position. Soon, a miniature, roofless museum will show up on your screen. You can tap to enter the museum and move around the galleries, where you'll see Vermeer's paintings hung on the virtual walls. Move your phone to look around and double-tap the paintings to zoom in and get more information.

The entire digital exhibit involves much more than just an augmented reality walk-through. It includes features on Vermeer's influence, the subjects he painted regularly, his Dutch hometown of Delft (also available as a digital walk-through), the palette and tools he used, examinations of Girl With a Pearl Earring, the history of Vermeer-stealing art thieves, and more.

Download the app for Android or iOS.

Love Vermeer's Baroque style? Learn more about Girl With a Pearl Earring here. As a chaser, go ahead and brush up on facts about another master painter of the Dutch Golden Age, Rembrandt van Rijn, too.

[h/t The New York Times]

Paris Musées Digitized More than 100,000 Major Artworks and Made Them Downloadable

“Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet
“Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet
Paris Musées, CC0

The museums of Paris are home to some of the most influential artworks on Earth, and if you live outside France, you no longer need a passport to see them. As Smithsonian reports, Paris Musées—the organization behind 14 of the city's iconic museums—has digitized more than 100,000 paintings and other pieces of art and made them freely available to the public.

The institutions under Paris Musées's umbrella include the Petit Palais, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and Maison de Balzac. It started sharing the work in its inventory online in 2016, and has since uploaded more than 320,000 pictures.

Roughly a third of the images in that digital collection were published in January 2020. This recent update was part of Paris Musées's initiative toward embracing open-access art. Every one of the 100,000-plus images uploaded in this month fall under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means they are fully in the public domain. Works like "Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine" by Gustave Courbet, “Setting Sun on the Seine at Lavacourt” by Claude Monet, and "Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne, are now not only free to view, but free to download as well.

"Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne
"Portrait of Ambroise Vollard” by Paul Cézanne
Paris Musées, CC0

Paris Musées eventually hopes to transition all the out-of-copyright items in its collection—which comprises roughly 1 million works—to a Creative Commons Zero license. The most recent image dump is just the first round, and other art will become available gradually as the institution carefully evaluates the copyright status of each piece. It plans to someday expand its public domain artworks to external platforms like Wikimedia Commons, but for now, you can find them on Paris Musées's website.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Apple Wants to Show Off Your Best Night Mode Photos as Part of a New Campaign

Austin Mann, Apple
Austin Mann, Apple

Calling all aspiring photographers who nabbed an iPhone 11 for the express purpose of trying out its fancy camera capabilities: It’s time for your night mode photos to see the light of day.

As Travel + Leisure reports, Apple is currently hosting a competition to find the best night mode photos taken on an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max. You can submit your photos through January 29, after which a carefully selected team of experts will evaluate all submissions and announce the five winning images on March 4.

Judges include Arem Duplessis, the former design director of The New York Times Magazine; Darren Soh, an award-winning photographer from Singapore; Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot the cover of American Vogue (his subject, rather memorably, was Beyoncé); and several other esteemed members of the industry.

golden gate bridge shot on iphone 11
The Golden Gate Bridge, shot on an iPhone 11 Pro.
Jude Allen, Apple

In addition to appearing on Apple’s homepage and Instagram (which has more than 21 million followers), the photos could also be featured in digital campaigns, Apple stores, third-party photo exhibitions, or even on physical billboards. In addition to all the exposure, the winners will be paid a licensing fee in exchange for granting the company complete freedom to use their work for one year.

To submit your shots, you can either share them on a public Instagram, Twitter, or Weibo account with the hashtags #ShotoniPhone and #NightmodeChallenge, or email your images to shotoniphone@apple.com—just be sure to title your files in this format: ‘firstname_lastname_nightmode_iPhonemodel.’

If you’re new to the iPhone 11 and aren’t quite sure how to snap photos in night mode, it’s easier than you might realize. The feature comes on automatically in dim or dark places and decides on a capture time for you (which you can always adjust). And if you think editing your photos afterward will increase your chances of winning the competition, that’s fine, too: Apple will accept photos edited in the app or even with non-Apple software.

You might want to avoid capturing the Eiffel Tower after dark, however—here’s why.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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