In the late 19th Century, physician and art collector Giovanni Morelli developed a technique, which seeks to distinguish individual artists and workshops by idiosyncrasies or repeated stylistic details that arise in their works. Morelli recognized that an artist, upon reaching a level of proficiency, develops formulas in the creation of figures, which maintain consistency and are sustained throughout his life, even as his style evolves. Through close study of these repeated details, formulas are identified and mapped. This allows the observer to readily identify evidence of the hand of a particular painter in a work like a detective matching fingerprints. The evidence lies in the workmanship of both large and small brushstrokes and the artist’s application of paints to create features such as eyes, collars or plants. The painting’s features are then matched with the unique formulas by which the painter is known.
This technique came to be known as “Morellian Analysis,” and to be a widely used practice in the fields of fine art attribution and authentication. Although Morellian Analysis is sometimes called a scientific technique, it relies to some degree on the experience of the analyst. By combining a general study and a set of consistency checks with Morellian analysis, our experts can produce a highly accurate assessment of a painting’s authenticity. With a detailed examination we can also determine the age, origin and materials of a work. Our skilled researchers can then assess the stylistic intricacies of the painting and workshop to which it is attributed.
At Art Experts, we rely heavily on the technique of Morellian Analysis. To learn more, contact us.