Rembrandt lives again in ING's data-driven painting tutorials

Follow-up to 'The Next Rembrandt' from JWT Amsterdam marks 350th anniversary of Dutch master's death

Published On
Feb 28, 2019

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Move over Bob Ross. Now Rembrandt is experiencing a “second life” of his own in a series of painting tutorials, with the help of A.I.

To mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch master’s death, ING and JWT Amsterdam have  “resurrected” him, once again, for a series of instructional films, “The Rembrandt Tutorials.”  The new campaign follows the award-winning “The Next Rembrandt,” which used A.I. to create a new painting as if it were in the artist’s own hand.

ING and JWT brought in a team of experts to imagine their latest ambitious idea. Step one involved consulting with the Rijksmuseum, which ING sponsors, to analyze Rembrandt’s personality and painting technique to create the tutorials themselves. ING and JWT then worked with the Dutch Language Institute to translate the tutorials into Nieuwnederlands, the type of Dutch spoken during his time, while experts from the University of Leiden consulted on reproducing the 17th-century pronunciation. Finally, the team worked with scientists at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon to recreate the sound of Rembrandt’s voice--taking into account data such as the physical structure of his head and neck--as depicted in portraits of the painter.

“We’re able to do so much now with modern technology and data,” Rita Singh, speech scientist at Carnegie Mellon, explained in a statement. “There’s a huge increase in the use of biometrics-- identification methods based on unique physical traits. We can already produce facial composites based on voice recordings. In this case, we reversed the technology to recreate Rembrandt’s voice.”

The campaign intro film directs viewers to the ING site, where they can view the tutorials, which cover a range of skills and topics, including preparation and sketching, materials and underpainting and the interplay of light and dark.  

ING isn't the first brand to recreate the voice of a historical figure. Previously, French broadcaster Canal+ used data to imagine how Louis XIV spoke to promote the series "Versailles."