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You can zoom into these famous paintings from the comfort of your couch

Written by
Howard Halle

For pandemic shut-ins everywhere, Google Arts & Culture is the gift that keeps on giving, offering web-only cultural experiences that range from virtual tours of museums to street views of gritty New York City street art to spelunking in a cave filled with wondrous Paleolithic paintings.

There's another feature, though, that may not only interest the art-curious, but also the self-quarantined who are thinking about taking up painting (and don't worry about supplies; most art stores let you order online) and need a bit of inspiration. That's where Google Arts & Culture Zoom-in guided tours of famous artworks comes in. It provides super-high resolution images of paintings that let you get close enough to see brushstrokes. And what better way is there of figuring out how to use a brush than learning from the masters?

Of course, if you just want to look at art and learn something about it, Zoom-in provides backgrounder notations that explain the work. To find out more, check out our selection of the five best paintings you'll find there.

Claude Monet, The Water Lily Pond, 1899

During the last decades of his career, Monet increasingly focused his art on a garden he cultivated at his home in Giverny, of which he painted scene after scene with special attention paid to a lily pond with a Japanese style footbridge crossing over it. Zoom-in shows how he combined long and short brushstrokes to bring the setting to life.

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502

Dürer is the artist deemed chiefly responsible for bringing the Renaissance to Northern Europe, and nowhere is that more apparent than in this study of a brown bunny, which is exquisitely detailed in every way—from individualized strands of fur to the reflection of the artist's studio window in its eyes.

Gustav Klimt, The Kiss, 1907–1908

The Kiss is the Austrian symbolist's most famous painting, particularly known for the elaborately patterned robe covering the two lovers who are the work's subject. Zoom-in reveals how Klimt combined oil paint with silver and gold leaf to create the composition's shimmering effect.  

Vincent Van Gogh, Terrace Of A Café At Night, 1888

This street scene is notable for its contrasts of yellow and blue paint applied with the fast, furious strokes Van Gogh is noted for, which are brought into sharp focus here.

Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Three Puppies, 1888

Though Gauguin is usually associated with exotic Polynesian subjects, he spent considerable time in Brittany creating genre scenes of everyday life in Northern France. This still life is typical, and shows how his work was influenced at the time by Japanese woodblock prints (to which he was introduced by Van Gogh), most notably in the bold outlines surrounding each form that are revealed by Zoom-in.  

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