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The study of weave maps

This volume consists of six larger essays. In his The Scientific Examination of Works of Art: Its Potentials and Its Limitations (Chapter 1) Arthur Wheelock contextualizes the use of computer-generated weave maps in the study of Vermeer and seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Wheelock concludes that ‘weave maps are an extremely useful tool for assessing questions of dating, pendant relationships, and even authenticity.’

In their The Use of X-radiographs in the Study of Paintings (Chapter 2), Petria Noble and Ige Verslype give a very useful overview of the possibilities of the examination of X-radiographs that ‘can reveal several kinds of information about the physical structure of the object, give insights into the painting technique, clues as to the compositional changes that the painter made during the painting process and indications of how the painting may have changed over time.’

The history of counting threads is illustrated by Michiel Franken in his Sixty Years of Thread Counting (Chapter 3). He also explains that an X-radiograph can display ‘information about the type of weave of the cloth, about the orientation, thickness, and density of the threads, and how the canvas has been mounted and prepared’, features that ‘can be compared across the work of an artist and his studio, or paintings by different painters but produced for a specific commission or by different artists all working in the same town or region.’

In Computer-Assisted Manual Thread Marking (Chapter 4) Bill Sethares introduces ‘software designed to assist in the collection of manual thread counts’, which can be downloaded and applied to digital images. In his next essay Automated Creation of Weave Maps (Chapter 5) Bill also introduces ‘free software for calculating, displaying, and studying patterns of threads in canvas X-rays.’

Finally, Rick Johnson demonstrates in his Exploiting Weave Maps (Chapter 6) several ways in which weave maps can be usedto gain insight into the structure of the canvas, into the way that the canvas may have been primed and mounted, and into the relationships between different canvases by the same artist.’

With Counting Vermeer the authors and the RKD want to open this new type of scientific examination of paintings to the larger field of art history in general and to interdisciplinary research fields in which automated thread counting from X-radiographs of paintings on canvas can provide essential knowledge.

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