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Contribution of scientific methods to the understanding of the work of the 16th century painter, Henri Bles

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This article presents analyses of the Groupe interdisciplinaire d'Archéométrie de ''Université de Liège (Belgium) for three paintings attributed to Henri Bles, a Mosan landscape painter active during the second third of the 16th century (i.e., second generation of landscape painters). Different ‘laboratory” methods have been exploited to characterise the work of the workshop of Henri Bles to distinguish it from others of the same period. The paintings presented here offer a representative sample of the problems posed by the reconstruction of Bles' activity.

Our approach permits the virtual reconstruction of the original composition of one of Bles' paintings that was transformed by a later artist to conform to changing preferences in iconography. It was also possible, with the combination of techniques applied, to authenticate a work that many considered to be a 19th century forgery. Conversely we have determined that a painting, attributed to Bles with certainty by art historians, is in fact a late copy, another proof of the continued renown of the artist well after his death.

These three paintings are only a small part of the work of this artist that has been studied by our group; to date, more than fifteen paintings attributed to him have been analysed. This systematic project permits the recovery of more general information on the work of Bles and his period.
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Keywords: 16th century; Art history; Henri Bles; dendrochronology; laboratory methods; panel paintings

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: 01 January 2003

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