I feel vindicated! For many reasons but they basically come back to my “focus” on frocks giving me a vantage few art historians have let alone regular historians.
It’s not just that I can recognise a frock, but when it’s painted/drawn by someone unfamiliar with the style. Or includes details that artists of the region ignore as they are the imperfections of wear rather than intended consequences. Locals know what is meant so tend to capture that over flaws.
Or I can recognise the effects of a local set of sumptuary laws designed to promote local business in the entire process of manufacture from raw materials in some cases (gold and silver mines.)
I was starting to feel that maybe this was all a bit OTT to prove what a hat was made of. But no!
In sorting my files I found a fabulous dissertation that feels very much like it started out as finding a near complete set of court records of a decade and they made each chapter and sub chapter in a way that was like mine (in part because I have read a lot of dissertations from Germany so I have tried to follow that format.)
So yes, it’s all important context if I’m arguing that you can spot all of these in a portrait.
I’ve found myself disagreeing with a lot of attributions including the reversal of some recently, because if there is one thing artists cannot change, no matter where they travel to work to and learn from? It’s faces.
A lot of how we learn to draw faces has got to be from a mirror. We ask a lot of our family or friends to get them to sit for several hours practice. And you need that time to develop your hand to make accurate sweeps with different materials and surfaces.
By the time an artist is a master they have learned that as muscle memory and is used for the most rapid ink lines to the finished project.
This is always inspired by the art and people around you so this is also why it tends to be pretty easy to spot 15thC art even by non art historians.
So I’ve been trying to get my hand back, while fitting in with the art of the time in part because it helps spot not just an artistic movement and artist but also the fakes or the wrong names.
I got a bit mixed up recently and it lead to me having to group siblings together, which breaks up my naming convention of files, but it’s lead to a really nifty discovery and if I’m lucky I may even find out why- I might be able to find out that only the fabric existed and it was used for multiple portraits.
I might find out those garments did exist which would be both remarkable and limit the possible dating of portraits, but not as limited as I expected based on the ages of the sitters.
I’m still going to have to find the highest resolution of the most natural depiction and use that as a frame of reference.