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TECHNOLOGICAL LIMITATIONS

This section profiles the limitations of the two forensic, research technologies that are currently in use by Veritus. These two main forensic technologies were used to provide all attributions listed at this Website, in addition to other proprietary forensic tools.
   Other supporting technologies were occasionally used to verify many results, primarily X-ray technologies, chemical analysis and certain dating technologies. Veritus is working diligently to overcome the limitations of existing technologies.

Digital Color Palette Analysis

"...paintings from close to the same period of time often have nearly identical base colour palettes." This technology has proven a very promising support tool in the determination of authorship. Color usage has long been a important tool of the expert in determining attribution. Because the range of the human eye is somewhat limited in color perception, color is analyzed digitally by Veritus. However, until the development of this technology all decisions made about color pallet used by individual artists were subjective and not analytical.
    The Color Palette Analysis program makes a careful evaluation of the exact colors used in various paintings, particularly in those pigments that are not fully mixed. This analysis becomes extremely important when determining attributions, as the color palette used by an artist normally evolves slowly as the artist uses up a particular paint or incorporates new color ideas. Artists also experiment with different color combinations, and these can be tracked through a series of paintings. Consequently, paintings from close to the same period of time often have nearly identical base color palettes. An example of this is the Young Christ in the Temple which was painted concurrently with The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Tulp. The base color palettes are nearly identical. The application of this technology then, also, becomes not only a valuable tool for determining who painted a work but, also, for determining the painting's time frame. A more complete description of this technology is found in the section on this Website that deals with technologies used for attribution.
    It is the opinion of Veritus researchers that this technology is inconclusive when used as a stand-alone procedure. No Veritus attributions are based upon this technology alone to provide for the authentication of a painting. However the researchers have used this technology to verify the dating of some works and to assist in the identification of some studio works.
    The main limitation of this technology is that it is always inconclusive when used as a stand-alone technology. This technology is considered by all Veritus researchers to be inconclusive because it is always possible that a different artist in a studio could have used someone else's pallet. The Master himself may have done some painting on a studio painting, adding his brushstrokes to another's color palette.

Digital Brushstroke Analysis

"...detect when the same paintbrush was used on more than one painting." This technology became the Veritus mission critical program. It has proven to be as identifying as a human fingerprint and is impossible to forge. The technology allows for comparisons of key features and nuances consistently appearing in an artist's individual brushstrokes. When very large numbers of brushstrokes are compared, definitive patterns emerge. The computer effects these brushstroke comparisons at a rate of thousands of comparisons per second, and they become ever more effective as the database increases. The sophistication of this technology makes it possible to detect, on occasion, when the same paintbrush was used on more than one painting. It is a little like the forensic examination of a bullet. Some bristles leave distinctive patterns that are reproduced on more than one painting. Although this technology is used primarily to determine who painted the picture, it can, additionally, be employed to provide an indication of relative timing. For example, if the same brush is used to paint two different paintings but there is a marker bristle missing in one of the paintings, that painting would have been painted second. Bristles can be lost from brushes but cannot be replaced. An example of this is the Young Christ in the Temple which was painted concurrently with The Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Tulp. One of the brushes used on Doctor Tulp lost a damaged bristle before being used on The Young Christ in the Temple. These occasional findings have proven to be as identifying as a human fingerprint. A more complete description of this technology is found in the section on this Website that deals with technologies used for attribution.
    A key limitation of this technology involves the building of the database. If there are several well-documented paintings that are absolutely unquestioned as to attribution, they can be used to develop the database. Once the database is begun, other paintings will emerge as being of the same hand. The data from these works then becomes a part of the database as well. The more data obtained from an artist, the more reliably Veritus can make attributions. There are absolutely no problems with the paintings of the well-known artists. However, when no reliable paintings remain in the name of an artist, it becomes impossible to build a reliable database for attribution. Unfortunately, this is often the case with many minor artists whose paintings were often re-attributed to be the works of more important artists in a effort to increase the paibting's value.
    Many unidentified paintings have been xamined. It is fairly certain that many of these paintings were the work of students in the Rembrandt studio because of the contributions of other technologies. However, so few paintings remain to some of his students that it is impossible to build a meaningful database to provide attribution. As an example, there are no reliable works remaining under the name of the artist Constantin Renesse. He worked in the Rembrandt Studio ca. 1649. He was a painter, engraver and an etcher. There are still a large number of etchings under his name. Several works are claimed to be by his hand but without great confidence. One of these is a very fine oil work set in Austria. Once this painting was attributed to Rembrandt; then it was re-attributed to Vermeer; then it was re-attributed to Renesse. It is unlikely that there will ever be a sufficient database to conclusively identify the hand of the artist. Certainly it is possible that some of the unidentified works could have been by the hand of Renesse. However, Veritus believes it unlikely that it will ever be able to positively identify the works of some of the minor artists in the Baroque period.
    An additional limitation of the technology concerns paintings that are badly damaged or over-painted. At present, Veritus is not able to obtain precise enough images from radiation or infrared imaging technologies. Therefore, it is not possible to reliably authenticate in areas that have been over-painted. A number of painting were so severely damaged, restored and over-painted that Veritus was unable to identify the artist who painted the work. New technologies are emerging in the area of bio-medical sciences that may provide Veritus with the ability to observe precisely the brushstrokes that lie below the surface. Veritus believes that within 10 years the technology will be available to properly attribute many badly damaged and over-painted works. Some of these paintings may well be by the hand of the master. As an example, many very fine paintings sold by Duveen and authenticated by Berenson have been so heavily repainted and varnished that conclusive authentication is impossible with current technologies. The authenticity of these works is further complicated by later confessions of Berenson that he was secretly receiving fees from Duveen to authenticate paintings which he personally doubted.
    Finally, some surface textures do not provide adequate information for current technology to make authoritative attributions. For example, Veritus technologies do not currently allow for the verification of the painting attributed to Caravaggio on the ceiling at Villa Boncompagni Ludovisi. However, Veritus expects that as its technologies are refined, this problem will likely be overcome in the near future.
 
"...once it was attributed to Rembrandt, then it was reattributed to Vermeer, then it was reattributed to Renesse."
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