AI-Generated Algorithms Help Art Researchers Distinguish Between Authentic Masterpieces And Forgeries – Yahoo Finance

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When it comes to fine art, there is scarcely a collector who hasn’t been fooled or almost fooled by an extremely well-crafted fake being passed off as a masterpiece by an artistic giant like Raphael, Rembrandt or Pablo Picasso. Now, a team of researchers in the U.S. and U.K. have collaborated to craft an algorithm that can spot irregularities invisible to the human eye; technology that could be indispensable in distinguishing real masterpieces from forgeries.

They recently employed the technology for the first time and discovered an irregularity in “Madonna della Rosa,” a famous painting by Renaissance master Raphael. Despite having been signed by Raphael, art collectors have long wondered whether the painting was an original work or an elaborate forgery. The truth of the Madonna’s authenticity was obscured by the fact that distinguishing masterpieces from fakes is not an exact science.

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The world’s foremost art authenticators use several metrics to determine the authenticity of a piece of art, and much of the criteria is subjective. In the case of the Madonna, some authenticators believed that several irregularities in one of the faces depicted in the painting indicate that it may not be an authentic Raphael. The argument was settled when this new algorithm was used to analyze the Madonna.

How The Algorithm Works

Researchers started by developing a customized algorithm that could spot fake Raphael paintings by feeding the algorithm’s artificial intelligence (AI) a steady diet of original works by Raphael. After learning the master’s tendencies and brush strokes, the algorithm showed a 98% accuracy rate in being able to tell the difference between real works by Raphael and forgeries or fakes.

The Madonna della Rosa features a Madonna, two children and St. Joseph. The first time researchers exposed the “Madonna della Rosa” to the algorithm, the results came back as “inconclusive.” This confused the researchers even more, especially because the algorithm had previously been so accurate. Undaunted, the researchers decided to take a different approach.

A 200-Year-Old Mystery Was Finally Solved

Instead of applying the algorithm to the entire painting, the researchers applied it to specific areas of it and came up with interesting results. According to their algorithm, the Madonna and child were painted by Raphael, but the brushstrokes and other inconsistencies in St. Joseph’s face indicated that it was probably not done by Raphael.

With that, a mystery that art critics had openly wondered about since the 1800s was solved, or at least partially. It’s still not 100% clear who painted St. Joseph’s face on the Madonna, but many suspect it was a pupil of Raphael named Giulio Romano. This discovery would likely have been impossible without the aid of AI-learning and algorithms.

Hassan Ugail, a U.K.-based researcher who worked on the project explained the algorithm’s inner workings and why it’s so effective by saying, “Using deep feature analysis 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. The computer sees far more deeply than the human eye, to the microscopic level.”

The Potential Future For This AI Technology Could Change Fine Art Collecting Forever

Counterfeit art is a cottage industry and paying real money for a fake is every fine art collector and museum curator’s worst nightmare. If the AI algorithm developed by the Madonna researchers can be trained to “learn” the work of other grandmasters, it will be a quantum leap forward in people’s ability to authenticate masterpieces, some of which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Only time will tell what forgeries AI will uncover next.

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