Facial Types in Painting and Recognition Skills: Laymen as Connoisseurs

in Art & Perception
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The history of art attribution in painting demonstrates that connoisseurs compare faces and facial features in their efforts to ascribe paintings to regions, schools, workshops and specific artists. Connoisseurs do not generally reflect on their application of face recognition or its importance. Since connoisseurs apply both specialist perception skills (recognising a brushstroke technique, for instance) and generic perception skills, an experiment was performed aiming to eliminate a connoisseur’s specialist skills. The experiment was performed using laymen observing faces, derived from paintings, that were stripped from all contextual information (i.e., cut-out faces). Thus, only generic skills could be applied in order to categorise these pictures. The results show how laymen arrive at the same categorisation of paintings as connoisseurs do, without prior training in matters of artistic connoisseurship.

Facial Types in Painting and Recognition Skills: Laymen as Connoisseurs

in Art & Perception

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References

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Figures

  • View in gallery

    Categories of face comparison.

  • View in gallery

    Gerrit van Honthorst, Smiling Girl, A Courtesan, Holding an Obscene Image (detail), 1625, oil on canvas, 81.3 × 64.1 cm, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Inv. no. 63:1954 (left); Hendrick ter Brugghen, Bacchante with an Ape (detail), 1627, oil on canvas, 102.9 × 90.2 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Inv. no. 84.PA.5 (right).

  • View in gallery

    (a) Rogier van der Weyden, Virgin and Child (detail), left wing of the Diptych of Laurent Froimont, 1445–1464, oil on wood, 51.5 × 33.5 cm, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen; (b) Hans Memling, Virgin and Child (detail), c. 1485, oil on wood, 44 × 32 cm, Inv. no. 1065 Pint, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon. (c) Hans Memling, Virgin and Child (detail), about 1475, oil on oak, 37.9 × 28 cm, The National Gallery, London. inv.nr. NG709; (d) Hans Memling, Diptych Maarten van Nieuwenhove (detail), 1487, oil on panel, 44.7 × 33.5 cm, Sint-Janshospitaal, Memling Museum, Brugge, Inv. no. O.SJ178.I.

  • View in gallery

    (a) Jean Hey, Virgin in Glory Triptych (detail), The Moulins Triptych, c. 1497, oil on wood, 157 × 283 cm, Moulins Cathedral, Moulins; (b) Jean Hey, Virgin and Child Adored by Angels (detail), c. 1490, oil on wood, 38.5 × 29.5 cm, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; (c) Jean Hey, Madeleine of Burgundy presented by Saint Mary Magdalene (detail), 1490–1495, oil on wood, 56 × 40 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris; (d) Jean Hey, Anne of France, Duchesse de Bourbon, accompanied by saint John the Evangelist (detail), 1492–1493, oil on wood, 73 × 53 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris; (e) Jean Hey, Nativity with cardinal Rolin (detail), c. 1480, oil on wood, 55 × 71 cm, Musée Rolin, Autun; (f) Jean Hey, Portrait of Charles II of Bourbon (detail), c. 1485, panel, 34 × 25 cm, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.

  • View in gallery

    (a) Jean Hey, Virgin in Glory Triptych (detail of the central panel), The Moulins Triptych, c. 1497, oil on wood, 157 × 283 cm, Moulins Cathedral, Moulins; (b) Jean Hey, The Annunciation (detail), 1490–1495, oil on canvas, 72 × 50.2 cm, Art Institute of Chicago; (c) Jean Hey, Virgin and Child Adored by Angels (detail), c. 1490, oil on wood, 38.5 × 29.5 cm, Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels; (d) Hugo van der Goes, Monforte Altarpiece (detail), 1470, oil on wood, 150 × 247 cm, Staatliche Museen, Berlin; (e) Jean Hey, Ecce Homo (detail), 1480–1500, oil on wood, 39 × 30 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels.

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    Task 1 results: the norm is encircled; The task results are indicated in percentages under each image. (I) Faces are of Italian origin; (N) faces are of Early Netherlandish origin.

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    Task 2 results: norm grades per pair versus averages of all participants grades per pair (with corresponding face pairs). (I) Faces are of Italian origin; (N) faces are of Early Netherlandish origin.

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