Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science

21st Century connoiseurship

Developing smart tools for the analysis of 17th century paintings

On the market there is confusion about a large number of potential counterfeits of old masters. This raises questions about the way in which the authenticity of paintings of old masters is determined and how the method(s) can be improved. In this research project, digital tools are developed that facilitate tracking of similarities and differences in paintings, both in the visible area and in deeper layers. To do this, insights from art history are combined with chemical research techniques and recent developments in computer science. The tools are developed on the basis of three case studies. In this way, new insights are developed in the paining technique and studio practice of Frans Hals (1582/83-1666), and controversial pieces are compared in a new, deeper way to uncontested originals of the same type. The tools are tested in collaboration with an international group of experts.

Object: Gemäldegalerie Berlin, Images: R. Erdmann

Interactive canvas analysis of a portrait of an unknown woman by Hals (Gemäldegalerie Berlin) showing thread angles (top) and spacings (bottom) in Erdmann’s “curtain viewer”. The angle maps in particular reveal details of the manufacture and handling of the canvas support. Images: R. Erdmann

Project acronym

D(e) Stap

Principal Investigator

  • Prof. dr. R. Erdmann (Rijksmuseum, University of Amsterdam)

Co-Principal investigator

  • Dr. A. Tummers (Frans Hals Museum)

Participating institutions

  • Rijksmuseum
  • University of Amsterdam
  • Gemäldegalerie Berlin
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art

Want to know more?

Please click here for project updates and background information.

Published by  NICAS

28 November 2018