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Grant number: HAA-256123-17

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Cornell University (Ithaca, NY 14853-2801)
Andrew Weislogel (Project Director: January 2017 to present)
C. Richard Johnson (Co Project Director: May 2017 to present)

Building a Decision Tree for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt's Etchings - The WIRE Project

Development of a prototype tool to enhance museum and art historical research into the printmaking practices of Rembrandt and other artists.

This project seeks to creatively merge digital, computational, and art historical methodologies to significantly broaden access to crucial watermark information elucidating Rembrandt’s printing practice and chronology. Its central innovation is the use of the decision tree model, which allows rapid, confident visual identification of Rembrandt watermarks by non-specialists. The project will build interrogatory decision tree branches for each of the 54 types of watermarks on Rembrandt’s papers, resulting in a complete tree that will be coded into purpose-developed software. The project will also develop procedure to add new watermarks to the tree as they arise, and will lay the foundation for a watermarks database for Rembrandt’s etchings in U.S. collections. The decision tree will provide proof of concept for application to other research questions requiring visual differentiation in datasets too large for the unaided researcher but too small to recommend a machine-learning approach.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Digital Humanities Advancement Grants

Digital Humanities

Total amounts:
$74,994 (approved)
$74,994 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 3/31/2020