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3.12 From analog to digital

During the past 60 years, the examination of canvases of Dutch seventeenth-century paintings has given us many new insights. Until recently, this research was done with X-radiographs, a magnifying glass and a measuring rod, to establish weave densities and to map cuspings along the edges of a painting.

The recent development of digitally creating weave maps, which is discussed in the next chapters, has many advantages over the older analog method. Instead of results, which are based on only a few local measurements, the weave density and the cusping can be mapped across the entire painting, provided only that one has suitable digitized radiographs of the complete painting. Moreover, the digital creation of weave maps is much faster. This makes it easier to examine larger quantities of paintings, not only of one artist, as was customary until now, but of a group of artists, who, for example, worked in specific cities or regions in a certain period of time. Combined with investigations of the ground layers, this research on a large scale makes it possible to determine if the use of specific types of support and ground is characteristic for a specific artist or for a city or region or was in general use in the Northern Netherlands. This may contribute to new insights into a long neglected part of the production of paintings in the seventeenth century, which are still regarded as the highlight of the Dutch Golden Age.


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