The New Rembrandt, Painted By a Computer


Four centuries after his death, a computer analyzes the Dutch master’s ouvre to create a brand new painting


“So far we have used data to improve our business life, but we have not used data in ways that allow us to touch the depths of the human soul.” This is how Ron Augustus, director of SMB Markets for Microsoft, describes “The Next Rembrandt” project. “You could say we have gathered and used data in the same way Rembrandt used oil painting and brushes to create something new.”

In a nutshell: a quite complex algorithm, created by a group of data analysts, has managed to have a computer and a 3D printer produce a “new work” by the Dutch master, after analyzing, collecting, classifying and processing all the possible data from all of Rembrandt’s work. The algorithm mimics the master’s technique, style, themes and characters. It is, as pointed out by OpenCulture, as if the team could have managed to extract Rembrand’s “artistic DNA” in order to create a new painting.

Of course, no one expects this piece to be hanging on a museum wall anytime soon, but it indeed represents an exceptional technological achievement that gives us a glimpse of what soon we will be able to do with technology, applied to the fields of conservation, history of art, archaeology and research.