ArtListings > News > Archive > How the war on terror could solve art's most enduring mysteries

How the war on terror could solve art's most enduring mysteries

08 May '12 by the editors | Source: www.independent.co.uk

Software developed to recognise terrorist faces is being adapted to solve the mystery of portraits of unidentified people.

In certain cases, cutting-edge "face recognition" technology could identify faces from digital images, detecting similarities in facial constructs. The data will come from scans of known features of individuals, such as in a death mask or identified sculpture.

A feasibility study is being conducted by two art historians and an electronic engineer at the University of California. They describe FACES (Faces, Art and Computerised Evaluation Systems) as a "new tool for art historians". The project has received a $25,000 government grant.

Conrad Rudolph, professor of art history at the university, said: "Before the advent of photography, portraits were, almost by definition, depictions of people who were important in their own worlds. But, as a walk through almost any major museum will show, a large number of these unidentified portraits from before the 19th century have lost the identities of their subjects."

Frans Hals' The Laughing Cavalier, the 1624 masterpiece in the Wallace Collection, London, is among famous portraits whose sitters remain unknown. The picture's title was coined in the 19th century.

Jeremy Warren, the Wallace's director of collections, said: "With the Laughing Cavalier, everyone accepts that name, but actually he's not laughing and he's not a cavalier ... I'd love to know who he is. If this technology can help us do it, we'd be absolutely delighted."

Bendor Grosvenor, a specialist in portraits at the Philip Mould Gallery, London, would particularly like to identify a "rather beautiful portrait" by an anonymous 17th-century hand – currently on show at the National Portrait Gallery.

He said: "It was traditionally called The Duke of Monmouth on his deathbed, but it isn't him as the dates don't work. Deathbed portraits are relatively rare, so who was important enough, or loved enough, to have been painted in such a moving portrayal by a good artist? I would love to know."

But he added: "Most unknown sitters are unknown because they were only painted once, and there is no other likeness with which to compare them. So the new programme will most likely only help with portraits of people for whom we already have other portraits."


Read entire article...


More news

The ART HK art fair is to be known as Art Basel from next year, but will remain in the month of May, which is friendlier to the region's needs than a previously suggested move to February.
08 May '12
artinfo.com


A few months after the abstract painter Richard Diebenkorn died in 1993 his family visited Knoedler & Company, the gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that had long been his dealer.
07 May '12
www.nytimes.com


The masterpiece was held in the vaults of a major US museum for 17 years
07 May '12
theartnewspaper.com


Sotheby’s annual shareholder meeting tomorrow morning in New York may stir a scream or two.
07 May '12
www.bloomberg.com


How Tobias Meyer prepared for the sale of his life.
05 May '12
online.wsj.com


Russian billionaires are famous for being big buyers of contemporary art, bolstering sales in capitals across the West, but at home it's a different story.
05 May '12
www.reuters.com


Wandering around the airy, massive tent that is home to the inaugural Frieze Art Fair, critic Jerry Saltz mused, “New Yorkers usually don’t cross water for culture, unless it’s an ocean.”
05 May '12
artinfo.com


Two days after the $120 million sale of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" set a new record for the most expensive work ever sold at auction the identify of its anonymous buyer remains unknown, but perhaps not for long.
05 May '12
www.reuters.com


US debut features a 250,000 sq ft tent devoted to contemporary works on Randall's island in the East river
03 May '12
www.guardian.co.uk


Helsinki rejected a proposal to build a 140 million euro ($185 million) Guggenheim museum on the Finnish capital's waterfront, a notice on the city's website said on Wednesday.
03 May '12
www.reuters.com


It took 12 nail-biting minutes and five eager bidders for Edvard Munch’s famed 1895 pastel of “The Scream” to sell for $119.9 million, becoming the world’s most expensive work of art ever to sell at auction.
03 May '12
www.nytimes.com


The great photographer, film-maker and iconoclast reflects on a life spent in pursuit of his personal vision.
02 May '12
www.guardian.co.uk


Considered the 'crown jewel' of the iconic image's four versions, painting's sale will fund a museum and arts centre in Norway.
02 May '12
www.guardian.co.uk


The spring art sales got off to a solid start at Christie's on Tuesday, with works by Cezanne and Matisse each selling for $19 million as the auction house moved $117 million worth of Impressionist and modern art.
02 May '12
www.reuters.com


A leading industry journal, the Burlington Magazine, has accused Tate Britain of failing the public by sidelining history in favour of contemporary art.
01 May '12
www.telegraph.co.uk


An exhibition of Lucian Freud paintings has set a new record for visitor numbers at the National Portrait Gallery.
01 May '12
www.telegraph.co.uk


Portrait painter Lucian Freud left a record 96 million pounds ($156 million) in his will, the largest sum bequeathed by a British artist, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported.
01 May '12
www.reuters.com


Royal Collection to display scientific drawings of Renaissance polymath, which scientists say show his dedication to physiology.
01 May '12
www.guardian.co.uk


Follow ArtListings
New on ArtListings
Latest art news
Art & Antiques Fairs