University of British Columbia’s (UBC’s) Steve DiPaola has uncovered a technique that he believes is responsible for making Rembrandt’s portraits so popular. DiPaola says Rembrandt may have created a technique that guides the viewer’s gaze around a portrait, creating a special narrative and calmer viewing experience. To isolate and pinpoint factors that contribute to the “magic” of Rembrandt’s portraits, DiPaola used computer-rendering programs to recreate four of the artist’s most famous portraits. DiPaola then tracked the viewer’s eye movements while they examined the original photographs and the Rembrandt-like portraits. “When viewing the Rembrandt-like portraits, viewers fixated on the detailed eye faster and stayed there for longer periods of time, resulting in calmer eye movements,” he says. The study is the first to scientifically verify the impact of these “eye guiding” techniques on viewers and to attribute its origin to Rembrandt.
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