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Proceedings Paper

Computer image studies of Rembrandt self portraits
Author(s): John F. Asmus
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Paper Abstract

There is a great deal of uncertainty and controversy surrounding the artwork legacy of Rembrandt van Rijn. Much of the difficulty stems from the dearth of reliable contemporary documentation covering the artist's activities as well as the great number of students who painted in his studio. Consequently, attributions have rested heavily upon subjective assessments of style and execution, together with whatever historical evidence can be uncovered. The dilemma associated with selecting those works which should be assigned to Rembrandt is complicated further by his fame and the potential for great financial return from the discovery of new pieces. In recent decades this dilemma has been alleviated to a considerable degree by the introduction analytical scientific methods for analyzing (and, in some cases, dating) the materials of an artwork. However, the greatest impact of materials analyses has been to throw out many style-based attributions after finding that the materials were inconsistent with the artist's legacy. Thus, materials analyses typically play a negative role in showing that an attribution is impossible rather than proving that the work in question was by the artist in question. On the other hand a new opportunity is at hand as a consequence of the emergence of digital computer image processing technology. It is now possible to apply this tool to the direct attribution of a painting through analyses of statistical properties pertaining to palette, albedo, and impasta. This paper describes the first efforts at creating a data base on the properties and statistics of Rembrandt portraits so as to provide a basis for determining which should be included in the body of his works, rather than which should be excluded.

Paper Details

Date Published: 27 August 1992
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1666, Human Vision, Visual Processing, and Digital Display III, (27 August 1992); doi: 10.1117/12.135989
Show Author Affiliations
John F. Asmus, Univ. of California/San Diego (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1666:
Human Vision, Visual Processing, and Digital Display III
Bernice E. Rogowitz, Editor(s)

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