Technical and Scientific Research as an Aid to Art Historians in the Attribution of Art Works

Mauro Sebastianelli


The present work underlines the importance of an objective evaluation in the study of constituent materials and execution techniques, as well as an examination of the state of conservation of some paintings, performed during the corresponding restoration procedures. These observations, supported by analytical tests and art-historical evaluations, constitute an essential phase of the interdisciplinary research aimed at determining the attribution of a work of art. The study revolves around Pietro Novelli, the leading figurative artist of the 1600s in Sicily, who stood out amongst his peers and experienced growing fame in the centuries to follow. The interest in Monrealese is triggered by the current lack of research into recognizing his characteristic traits, accompanied by the existence of a relevant number of paintings of uncertain attribution and artifacts made by his followers or copyists. The research consists in the application of a technological investigative methodology on two examples of paintings from the 1600s, featuring David with the Head of Goliath and Our Lady of Sorrows. During their recent restoration, a study was conducted of the techniques used for their execution, accompanied by appropriate comparisons with artifacts of certain attribution. In both cases, it was possible to relate them directly to Novelli and identify the works of art respectively as replica and attributed.


Pietro Novelli; replica; attribution; diagnostic evaluation; execution techniques


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DOI: 10.6092/issn.1973-9494/7168


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