Dissertations details

  • The brushstroke and materials of Amadeo Souza-Cardoso combined in an authentication tool
  • Feb 2015
  • Nowadays, authentication studies for paintings require a multidisciplinary approach, based on the contribution of visual features analysis but also on characterizations of materials and techniques. Moreover, it is important that the assessment of the authorship of a painting is supported by technical studies of a selected number of original artworks that cover the entire career of an artist. This dissertation is concerned about the work of modernist painter Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. It is divided in three parts. In the first part, we propose a tool based on image processing that combines information on Amadeo’s brushstroke and on the materials and techniques in his work. The resulting system provides qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the authorship of the painting; the quantitative element is particularly relevant, as it could be crucial in solving authorship controversies, such as judicial disputes. The brushstroke analysis was performed by combining two algorithms for feature detection, namely Gabor filter and Scale Invariant Feature Transform. Thanks to this combination (and to the use of the Bag-of-Features model), the proposed method shows an accuracy higher than 90% in distinguishing between images of Amadeo’s paintings and images of artworks by other contemporary artists. For the molecular analysis, we implemented a semi-automatic system that uses hyperspectral imaging and elemental analysis. The system provides as output an image that depicts the mapping of the pigments present, together with the areas made using materials not coherent with Amadeo’s palette, if any. This visual output is a simple and effective way of assessing the results of the system. The tool proposed based on the combination of brushstroke and molecular information was tested in twelve paintings obtaining promising results. The second part of the thesis presents a systematic study of four selected paintings made by Amadeo in 1917. Although untitled, three of these paintings are commonly known as BRUT, Entrada and Coty; they are considered as his most successful and genuine works. The materials and techniques of these artworks have never been studied before. The paintings were studied with a multi-analytical approach using micro-Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence spectroscopy, micro-Infrared and Raman Spectroscopy, micro-Spectrofluorimetry and Scanning Electron Microscopy. The characterization of Amadeo’s materials and techniques used on his last paintings, as well as the investigation of some of the conservation problems that affect these paintings, is essential to enrich the knowledge on this artist. Moreover, the study of the materials in the four paintings reveals commonalities between the paintings BRUT and Entrada. This observation is supported also by the analysis of the elements present in a photograph of a collage (conserved at the Art Library of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation), the only remaining evidence of a supposed maquete of these paintings. The final part of the thesis describes the application of the image processing tools developed in the first part of the thesis on a set of case studies; this experience demonstrates the potential of the tool to support painting analysis and authentication studies. The brushstroke analysis was used as additional analysis on the evaluation process of four paintings attributed to Amadeo, and the system based on hyperspectral analysis was applied on the painting dated 1917. The case studies therefore serve as a bridge between the first two parts of the dissertation.
  • New University of Lisbon
  • Cristina Montagner
  • Maria João Melo, Rui Jesus