Dictionary learning-based classification of ink strokes in Vincent Van Gogh's drawings

January 28, 2019 by David Bradley, Inderscience
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Researchers in the Netherlands and the U.S. have used discriminative dictionary learning techniques to study and classify the brush strokes in historical artworks, specifically those created by Vincent van Gogh. Ultimately, the aim is to find a way to carry out the automatic classification of an ink drawing based on the type of stroke used by the artist.

Rosaleena Mohanty and William Sethares of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have worked with colleagues Teio Meedendorp and Louis van Tilborgh of the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam and discuss details of their research in the International Journal of Arts and Technology.

In a letter written in 1883, van Gogh stated that "drawings are the root of everything". Indeed, he drew a variety of images with ink and pencil strokes and these can be seen clearly and distinctly in his : cross-hatchings, dots, vertical, horizontal, blunt, curved strokes, some long, some short, some light and some dark. In his drawing, "Sower with Setting Sun", it is possible to discern the various strokes he used and perhaps "segment" them by eye. There are bold slashes in the foreground that represent the field, thin vertical lines depicting the grain, dots capping the grain, smaller dots speckled throughout the sky, and the relatively complex cross-hatching that forms the clothes of the sower. However, to analyse a large body of work and to find an objective way to classify drawings perhaps for conservation and art fraud avoidance would require a huge amount of time and effort and would not necessarily provide a definitive segmentation of the collection.

The team's approach takes a step closer to a generalised method for the classification of large bodies of artworks.

Explore further: Computer identifies authentic Van Gogh

More information: Rosaleena Mohanty et al. Dictionary learning-based classification of ink strokes in Vincent van Gogh's drawings, International Journal of Arts and Technology (2019). DOI: 10.1504/IJART.2019.097338

Related Stories

Computer identifies authentic Van Gogh

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Dutch researcher Igor Berezhnoy has developed computer algorithms to support art historians and other art experts in their visual assessment of paintings. His digital technology is capable of distinguishing ...

Van Gogh painting under the microscope

November 13, 2014

A minute paint sample from Vincent van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting in Amsterdam is under the microscope at The University of Queensland in Brisbane.

Researchers detect fake art from originals

July 9, 2008

As museums continue to digitize their art collections, it becomes increasingly easier for paintings to be forged. Two Penn State researchers are part of an international team working on a digital system to help detect original ...

Recommended for you

In colliding galaxies, a pipsqueak shines bright

February 20, 2019

In the nearby Whirlpool galaxy and its companion galaxy, M51b, two supermassive black holes heat up and devour surrounding material. These two monsters should be the most luminous X-ray sources in sight, but a new study using ...

When does one of the central ideas in economics work?

February 20, 2019

The concept of equilibrium is one of the most central ideas in economics. It is one of the core assumptions in the vast majority of economic models, including models used by policymakers on issues ranging from monetary policy ...

Research reveals why the zebra got its stripes

February 20, 2019

Why do zebras have stripes? A study published in PLOS ONE today takes us another step closer to answering this puzzling question and to understanding how stripes actually work.

Correlated nucleons may solve 35-year-old mystery

February 20, 2019

A careful re-analysis of data taken at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has revealed a possible link between correlated protons and neutrons in the nucleus and a 35-year-old mystery. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.