Morellian analysis

Introduction

Morellian analysis is named for Giovanni Morelli (1816-1891). Morelli, who trained as a physician, approached art authentication and forgery as a doctor would. As a doctor, he examined physical symptoms. Aggregated, medical symptoms form a diagnosis. As an art historian, Morelli examined and categorized the details of an artist’s technique. He analyzing how an artist formed eyes, ears, noses, and mouths. Aggregated, comparable features form a recognizable style. This definition is an oversimplification of Morelli’s methods, but the specific examples below serve as an introduction to the usefulness of his techniques.

Examples

An example of Morellian analysis can be found in the comparison of a new portrait by George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, with Bingham portraits from the same time period. The artists technique improved but the manner in which he formed basic features remained consistent. Truth is in the details

Eyes

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835 (Detail - Eyes)

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835
(Detail – Eyes)

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835 (Detail-Eyes)

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835
(Detail-Eyes)

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835 (Detail - Eyes)

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835
(Detail – Eyes)

Nose

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835 (Nose)

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835
(Detail – Nose)

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835 (Detail - Nose)

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835
(Detail – Nose)

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835 (Detail - Nose)

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835
(Detail – Nose)

Mouth

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835 (Detail - Mouth and Chin)

George Caleb Bingham, Robert Patterson Clark, 1834-1835
(Detail – Mouth and Chin)

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835 (Detal - Mouth and Chin)i

George Caleb Bingham, Shubael Allen, 1835
(Detal – Mouth and Chin)i

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835 (Detail - Mouth and Chin)

George Caleb Bingham, Dr. Anthony Wayne Rollins, 1835
(Detail – Mouth and Chin)

 

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