Albrecht Dürer's masterpiece the Hare is a favourite Easter image, and today it serves as a model for chocolate bunnies. The Google Cultural Institute is celebrating this season by today releasing a gigapixel image of the Hare. Gigapixel images contain billions of pixels, that’s around 1,000 times more detailed than your average digital camera.

Albrecht Dürer: Hare, 1502,
The watercolor painting is extremely light sensitive -- so much so that the museum who owns it, the Albertina in Austria, only can show it to the public every few years. From now on, thanks to the Internet, everyone can experience the magic of Dürer's technique at the most incredible level of detail at any time.

 Zoom to a detail on Google Art Project
Dürer painted the Hare in 1502, rendering the animal with an almost photographic accuracy that is extraordinary today as it was more than 500 years ago. It is the artist’s most famous study of nature and one of the finest in Western art. The hare’s fur spreads out in different directions and is spotted in light and dark patches. Dürer not only managed to create a detailed, almost scientific, study of the animal, but also used nuanced brushwork to paint the finest hairs of its coat, infusing the picture with warmth, light and life.

The animal’s watchful eyes, vibrating whiskers, and alert ears give the impression that the hare might hop out off the paper at any moment. An interesting detail to explore using the zoom feature is the the hare’s right eye which appears to reflect the interior of a room or form the shape of a cross. According to the Albertina curators, the image might be a reflection of the artist’s studio, or perhaps the Christian symbol of the cross which would lend religious significance to this image from nature. Take a look, and come up with your own ideas.