Zoffany painting Victoria Memorial’s choice for Google project

Kolkata: The iconic Victoria Memorial Hall, which will soon be seen on the Google Art Project, has suggested a painting by 18th century German artist Johann Zoffany as the focus of the cyber platform’s gigapixel (high resolution) photography.

The cyber showcase of the art project, christened Google Institute of Culture, enables users not only to view high resolution images from various museums but also allows them to compile their own collection. Besides, they can learn about the history, the artists and other details of the art pieces.

The project, a collaboration between Google and some of the world’s finest and acclaimed art institutions, includes collections of the White House in Washington DC, Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the National Gallery in London among others.

Each participating art institution or museum chooses one particular artwork to be put up in extraordinary detail through high-resolution photography or ‘gigapixel’ photo capturing technology. Each such image is composed of around seven billion pixels enabling viewers to study details of brushwork, background and decipher complexities of the artwork never seen before.

Zoffany’s painting commonly referred to as “General Claude Martin and his Friends” (titled ‘Colonel Antoine Polier, Claude Martin, and John Wombwell with the Artist’) dating back to 1786-1787 in Lucknow, is Victoria Memorial’s choice for the high resolution photography.

“We feel the artwork is a good choice for the gigapixel photography and it will help to bring out the intricacy. The team from Google Art will most likely arrive after the Durga puja for shooting the virtual tours and the final call will be taken after that,” the Hall’s curator Jayanta Sengupta told IANS Thursday.

The sprawling 93-year-old Victoria Memorial Hall, a tribute to Queen Victoria conceived by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, will become the third Indian museum or gallery to be showcased on the Google initiative beside 46 other museums from 40 countries.

The others from India are the National Museum and the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.

Enthusiasts can go for the popular “walkthrough” feature to tour the galleries and exhibits.

“The team will shoot with very sophisticated cameras and equipment and so we will have to figure out the storage aspect as well,” Sengupta added.

Around 120 items from the monument’s collection will be on virtual display.

Zoffany, a neo-classical style artist, came to India in the 1780s. The painting in question shows Major General Claude Martin, an officer in the French and later the British army in India, his friend the Swiss adventurer Antoine Polier and Yorkshire accountant Wombwell with Zoffany in the background. Two Indian servants are seen waiting on them.

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