AI discovers famous painting wasn’t entirely painted by the credited artist – TweakTown

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Humans are only so good at detecting details in art, which is why researchers have decided to train an AI algorithm to detect what humans can’t and only suspect.


A team of researchers from the UK and US created a custom algorithm using a pre-trained architecture called ResNet50, which was developed by Microsoft. The team took advantage of a common machine learning technique to improve the algorithm, feeding it with authenticated paintings by the famous artist Raphael. The goal was to teach the AI to identify with a high degree of accuracy brushstrokes in paintings that were created by Raphael’s hand and the faces of people within those paintings.

One painting, in particular, from Raphael, has been a point of debate among scholars. The Madonna della Rosa, or Madonna of the Rose, was painted on canvas from 1518 to 1520. Scholars have been debating for many years if the painting was an original work by the famed artist or if its creation involved another hand, specifically with the face of St Joseph. Some scholars have argued that St Joseph’s face isn’t as meticulously crafted as the Raphael’s other pieces of work, leading them to believe it was done by another painter.

The team asked the AI algorithm to scan the contentious painting, and it identified Madonna, the Child, and St John as being created by the hand of Raphael, but St Joseph was not – confirming a hundred-year-long suspicion by scholars.

Using deep feature analysis, we used pictures of authenticated Raphael paintings to train the computer to recognize his style to a very detailed degree, from the brushstrokes, the color palette, the shading and every aspect of the work,” explained mathematician and computer scientist Hassan Ugail from the University of Bradford in the UK

When we tested the della Rosa as a whole, the results were not conclusive,” said Ugail. “So, then we tested the individual parts and while the rest of the picture was confirmed as Raphael, Joseph’s face came up as most likely not Raphael.

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