The microscope was programmed to automatically focus on the painting and take pictures, and then sew everything together. Certain regions of the painting were captured in even greater detail using the 3D features of the microscope. For these, each pixel corresponded to 1.1 microns, with several images of each region taken to create a topographic map so that experts could see the differences in paint height and other details.
The Hirox software automatically moves the lens up and down with very high precision, taking a series of images with different focus [points] and combine them into one fully focused image, ”said Leonhardt. “The motorized X / Y step then moves to the next position, creating a high-resolution panorama.”
In an area of the left eye, you can zoom in to see the pupil and then zoom in much further to see the light source reflected in that pupil as a pair of paint splashes. Another part shows two small dots of paint that Vermeer has added to give texture to the garment.
By switching to 3D mode, you can see the same paint on the pupil from edge to edge, revealing topographic details in the paint and cracks. You can also explore other regions, including the subject’s mouth, garments and, yes, the famous earrings. This type of detail is incredibly valuable for curators, as they can track wear and tear on the painting and explore previous restorations. Hirox has created a special website for the scan, and you can zoom in and check it out in 3D right here.