Overlay Videos for Quick and Accurate Watermark Identification, Comparison, and Matching

Creating and Using Overlay Videos

Identifying, comparing, and matching watermarks in pre-machine-made papers has occupied scholars of prints and drawings for some time. One popular but arduous approach is to overlay, either manually or digitally, an image of the watermark in question with its presumed match from a known source. For example, a newly discovered watermark in a Rembrandt print might be compared to a similar one reproduced in Erik Hinterding’s Rembrandt as an Etcher (2006). Such an overlay can confirm the pair as identical, i.e., as moldmates, or reveal their differences. But creating an accurate overlay for two images with different scales, orientations, or resolutions using standard image-manipulation tools can be time consuming and, ultimately, unsuccessful.

Part One of this article describes advances in the emerging field of computational art history, specifically the development of digital image processing software, that can be used to semi-automatically create a reliable animated overlay of two watermarks, regardless of their relative “comparability.” Watermarks found in the prints of Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) are used in three case studies to demonstrate the efficacy of user-generated overlay videos.

Part Two discusses how searching for identical watermarks, i.e., moldmates, can be enhanced through the application of a new suite of software programs that exploit the data calculated during the creation of user-generated animated overlays. This novel watermark identification procedure allows for rapid, confident watermark searches with minimal user effort, given the existence of a pre-marked library of watermarks. Using a pre-marked library of Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks, four case studies present different categories of previously undocumented matches 1) among Rembrandt’s prints; 2) between prints by Rembrandt and another artist, in this case Jan Gillisz van Vliet (1600/10–1668); and 3) between selected Rembrandt prints and contemporaneous Dutch historical documents.

DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.1

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to express their gratitude to Sound & Vision Publishers for permission for the WIRE Project at Cornell University, of which C. Richard Johnson Jr. is a co-founder, to use their images of the watermarks appearing in Hinterding’s catalogue as a critical part of the watermark identification procedure presented in this article, which we intend to add to the WIRE Project’s website. The authors also thank the Morgan Library & Museum, the Dutch University Institute for Art History, and Theo and Frans Laurentius for access to images from their radiograph collections. The authors thank Nadine Orenstein (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Erik Hinterding (Rijksmuseum), and Andy Weislogel (Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University) for their helpful comments on early versions of this article and Daniel Biddle (Stephen Chan Library, New York University) for his assistance.  The authors thank the Getty Foundation Digital Art History Initiative Grant ORG-201943572, “Applying Digital Image Processing Algorithms to the Study of Prints and Drawings” (May 2019–September 2021), which has funded the development and application of computer-based tools that assist in the matching of manufactured patterns in laid paper. Gratitude is extended to the participants in the Foundation for Advancement in the Conservation online workshop, “Coding Historical Papers: Identifying Sameness and Difference in Watermarks, Chain Lines, and Laid Lines” on March 1, 3, and 5, 2021 (https://www.iiconservation.org/content/coding-historical-papers-online-workshop), who served as first concept and software testers. Finally, the authors thank Bret Rothstein, who  provided invaluable assistance with the editing of this article.

Fig. 1 The manufactured patterns found in paper reflect the unique characteristics of the papermaking mold used to form it. Papers made from the same mold—moldmates—share subtle variations in watermark details, chain line intervals, and laid line densities measured in lines per centimeter. The filone supplementare, or supplemental wire, is characteristic of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century papers produced in the vicinity of Fabriano. See S. R. Albro, Fabriano: City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016), 147. Drawing by A. Slawik [side-by-side viewer]
2. Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 2 Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves (The Three Crosses), 1653, state B78iii, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 41.1.32 [side-by-side viewer]
3. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 3 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 2), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
4. Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78ii-MorganLibrary
Fig. 4 Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves (The Three Crosses), 1653, state B78ii, The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, RvR 122 [side-by-side viewer]
5. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78ii
Fig. 5 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78ii (fig. 4), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
6. MarkedStrasbourgBendWatermark-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii
Fig. 6 Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 3) [side-by-side viewer]
7. StrasbourgBend-B78ii
Fig. 7 Still of Overlay Video, Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78ii (fig. 5) [side-by-side viewer]
8. StrasbourgBend-DecisionTree-WIRE
Fig. 8 Strasbourg Bend decision tree from WIRE Project at Cornell [side-by-side viewer]
9. StrasbourgBend-DecisionTree-D'a
Fig. 9 Strasbourg Bend decision tree path to D’.a.a and D’.a.b [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 10 Overlay GIF of marked Strasbourg Bend watermarks (figs. 6 and 7). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animation41-1-32dpi600-RVR122B78iiBetadpi400(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
11. Rembrandt-Medea-B112iv-Morgan.jpg
Fig. 11 Rembrandt van Rijn, Medea, or the Marriage of Jason and Creusa, 1648, B112iv, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, RvR 178 [side-by-side viewer]
12. Radiograph-Rembrandt-Medea-B112iv
Fig. 12 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Medea, B112iv (fig. 11), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
13. Rembrandt-ArtistMother-B344-Morgan
Fig. 13 Rembrandt van Rijn, The Artist’s Mother in Widow’s Dress and Black Gloves, ca. 1635, B344, The Morgan Library & Museum, RvR 459 [side-by-side viewer]
14. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ArtistMother-B344
Fig. 14 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Artist’s Mother, B344 (fig. 13), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
15. Marked-FoolscapWatermark-B112iv
Fig. 15 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark, B112iv (fig. 12) [side-by-side viewer]
16. Marked-FoolscapWatermark-B344
Fig. 16 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark B344 (fig. 14) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 17 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks (figs. 15 and 16). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationRVR178B112ivBeta-RVR459B344Beta(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 2a Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, state B78iii (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
3a. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 3a Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, state B78iii (fig. 3) [side-by-side viewer]
18. Bol-SolomonOfferingSacrifice-RembrandtAufPapier
Fig. 18 Ferdinand Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice of Peace Offerings (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
Ferdinand Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice of Peace Offerings
Fig. 19 Radiograph of watermark, Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 6a Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 6) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 19a Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice (fig. 19) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 20 Overlay GIF of marked Strasbourg Bend watermarks (figs. 6 and 19). See also  https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationRVR178B112ivBeta-RVR459B344Beta(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
21. IHS-Countermark-RembrandtAufPapier
Fig. 21 Marked IHS countermark, Graphische Sammlung München, 1741 (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
22. IHS-Countermark-Hinterding
Fig. 22 Marked IHS countermark, Hinterding E.b (image from E. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, vol. 3 [Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision Publishers, 2006]) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 23 Overlay GIF of marked IHS countermarks (figs. 21 and 22). See also  https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationTVW-41-IHS-E-b_PVN-B283v(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
24. Marked-Radiograph-Rembrandt-BridgeKostverloren-B208ii-Morgan-RVR294
Fig. 24 Marked beta radiograph of watermark in Rembrandt van Rijn, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren on the Amstel, 1645, B208ii, The Morgan Library and Museum. RVR 294 beta radiograph by Reba Snyder (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 25 Average alignment errors for Morgan RVR 294 (fig. 24) in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 24a Marked beta radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 24) [side-by-side viewer]
26. Watermark-Remrbandt-BridgeKleinKostverloren-B208ii-Morgan_RvR294
Fig. 26 Watermark in Rembrandt van Rijn, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, 1645, B208ii [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 26a Watermark in Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 26) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 24b Marked beta radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 24) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 25a Average alignment errors for Morgan RVR 294 (fig. 25) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 27 Overlay GIF of radiograph watermark (marked and unmarked) in figs. 24 and 26. See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationF5PC-K-a-a-Morgan294(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
28. Marked-Radiograph-JanGilliszVanVliet-OldWomanReading-B18ii-NIKI_EH002026
Fig. 28 Marked radiograph EH002026 of watermark in Jan Gillisz van Vliet, Old Woman Reading, B18ii, from the watermark collection of the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence. Publication permission granted by Gert Jan van der Sman, NIKI (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 29 Average alignment errors for NIKI EH002026 (fig. 28) in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 30 Overlay GIF of marked radiograph, Van Vliet, Old Woman Reading, B18ii (fig. 28) – https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationEH002026-F5PC-K-e-a(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
31. MarkedFoolscap5PtCollar_n483_Laurentius
Fig. 31 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 483 from Theo and Frans Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650: Found in the Zeeland Archives (’t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2007), Publication permission granted by Frans Laurentius (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 32 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 483 in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar Watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 33 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark (fig. 31). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL483-F5PC-H-b-a(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
34. MarkedFoolscap5PtCollar-Laurentius 545a
Fig. 34 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 545a from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650 (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 35 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 545a in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 36 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark (fig. 34). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL545a-F5PC-H-b-b(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
37. MarkedFoolscap5ptCollar-Laurentius544a
Fig. 37 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 544a from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650. Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 38 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 544a in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
39. Marked-PRcounterpart-a.Hinterding-Rembrandt
Fig. 39 Marked PR countermark, PR.a from Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006). Publication permission granted by Sound & Vision Publishers BV (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
40. Marked-PRcounterpart-Laurentius545b
Fig. 40 Marked PR countermark, watermark 545b from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650. (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 41 Overlay GIF of marked PR countermarks (figs. 39 and 40). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationCNTRMRK-PR-a_Rpk-OB-248-L545b(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 42 The graphical user interface for the selection of the corresponding points between images (with the first five of the eleven to be marked in the Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 43 The graphical user interface for watermarkLibrarySearch. After the user selects a folder containing pre-marked watermark images and a single (usually unknown) watermark, the module calculates the alignment error between the unknown and each of the members of the library, as described in Appendix 3. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 44 The graphical user interface for the generation of overlay animations uses the output of watermarkPointMarker to guide the creation of the animation. Careful observation of the video is the final step in determining the moldmate status of the watermark images. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 45 Sets of points marking the left-hand figure are labeled with x and y (and subscripted by i), while the corresponding points on the right are labeled with the overbars (The case i=5 is shown). The affine mapping from left to right is given by the matrix A and vector b. The bounding box of each set of labels is used to scale the error so that the comparison becomes independent of the resolution of the watermarked images. [side-by-side viewer]
  1. 1. “Comparability” refers to the equivalency of visibility, completeness, scale, orientation, resolution, degree of sameness, and overall quality between existing watermark images. Manually comparing watermark images having vastly different degrees of comparability is extremely difficult and leads to inaccurate conclusions.

  2. 2. Margaret Holben Ellis and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Computational Connoisseurship: Enhanced Examination Using Automated Image Analysis,” Visual Resources 35, nos. 1–2 (March–June 2019), 125–40.

  3. 3. Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 90–130.

  4. 4. Kristin Hoermann Lister, Cornelia Peres, and Inge Fiedler, “Tracing an Interaction: Supporting Evidence, Experimental Grounds” in Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South, ed. Douglas W. Druick and Peter Kort Zegers (London: Thames and Hudson, 2001), 354–69.

  5. 5. Don H. Johnson, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Robert G. Erdmann, “Weave Analysis of Paintings on Canvas from Radiographs,” Signal Processing 93, no. 3 (March 2013), 527–40.

  6. 6. Louis van Tilborgh et al., “Weave Matching and Dating of Van Gogh’s Paintings: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” Burlington Magazine 154, no. 1307 (February 2012), 112–22.

  7. 7. For example, Pablo Perez d’Ors, C. Richard  Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Velázquez in Fraga: A New Hypothesis about the Portraits of El Primo and Philip IV,” Burlington Magazine 154, no. 1314 (September 2012), 620–25; and Walter Liedtke, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012), 99–106.

  8. 8. C. Richard Johnson Jr. and William A. Sethares, eds., Counting Vermeer: Using Weave Maps to Study Vermeer’s Canvases, Appendix II: Matches (The Hague: RKD Studies, 2017), https://countingvermeer.rkdstudies.nl

  9. 9. Use of these tools is illustrated in C. Richard Johnson Jr. and William A. Sethares, “Hunting for Weave Matches: Computation in Art Scholarship,” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 12 (February 2018), https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/hunting-for-weave-matches-computation-in-art-scholarship.

  10. 10. For example, Laurens van der Maaten and Robert G. Erdmann, “Automatic Thread-Level Canvas Analysis: A Machine-Learning Approach to Analyzing the Canvas of Paintings,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 38–45; and Haizhao Yang et al., “Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis Using 2-D Synchrosqueezed Transforms: Application of Time-Frequency Analysis to Art Investigation,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 55–63.

  11. 11. Paul Messier, “Image Isn’t Everything: Revealing Affinities Across Collections Through the Language of the Photographic Print,” Object: Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection 1909–1949, ed. Mitra Abbaspour, Lee Ann Daffner, and Maria Morris Hambourg (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014), 5. The report on the “Historic Photographic Paper Challenge” is described in C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “Pursuing Automated Classification of Historic Photographic Papers from Raking Light Images,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 53, no. 3 (2014), 159–70.

  12. 12. Paul Messier et al., “Automated Surface Texture Classification of Inkjet and Photographic Media,” Technical Program and Proceedings: NIP29: The 29th International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies (Springfield, VA: The Society for Imaging Science and Technologies, 2013), 85–91.

  13. 13. Patrice Abry, Andrew G. Klein, Paul Messier, et al., “Wove Paper Analysis through Texture Similarities,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Annual Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers (ASILOMAR 2016) (Pacific Grove, CA: IEEE, 2016), 144–48.

  14. 14. For example, Allan H. Stevenson, “Chain-Indentations in Paper as Evidence,” Studies in Bibliography 6 (1954), 181–95; and David Vander Meulen, “The Identification of Paper without Watermarks: The Example of Pope’s ‘Dunciad,’” Studies in Bibliography 37 (1984), 58–81.

  15. 15. Item 3.2.4 in International Association of Paper Historians (hereafter IPH), “International Standard for the Registration of Papers with or without Watermarks,” version 2.1.1 (2013), http://www.paperhistory.org/Standards/IPHN2.1.1_en.pdf.

  16. 16. For example, Jan C. A. van der Lubbe, Eugene P. van Someren, and Marcel J. T. Reinders, “Dating and Authentication of Rembrandt’s Etchings with the Help of Computational Intelligence,” in International Cultural Heritage Informatics: Proceedings from ichim01 (Milan and Pittsburgh: Archives and Museum Informatics, 2001), 485–92; and C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “Hunting for Paper Moldmates Among Rembrandt’s Prints,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 28–37.

  17. 17. Xuelie Xi, Devin Conathan, Amanda House, et al., “Automated Chain Line Marking and Pattern Matching in Radiographs of Rembrandt’s Prints,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Annual Asilomar Conference, 1–9.

  18. 18. This agrees with results from experiments on a different dataset with a different computational procedure, in Mark Van Staalduinen, “Content-Based Paper Retrieval Towards Reconstruction of Art History” (PhD diss., Delft University of Technology, 2010).

  19. 19. Counting the “number of laid lines over a distance of 20 mm” at various points in the paper is included as item 3.2.3 in IPH, “International Standard for the Registration of Papers with or without Watermarks.”

  20. 20. Transmitted-light images have difficulty revealing the inner structural properties of paper for heavily inked artworks. They are more likely to be useful with drawings and writing, given digital image processing tools that can remove the surface images from a transmitted-light image. Examples of such tools appear in William A. Sethares, Margaret Holben Ellis, and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Computational Watermark Enhancement in Leonardo’s Codex Leicester,” Journal of American Institute for Conservation 59, no. 2 (March 2020), 87–96; and Pablo Ruiz et al., “Visible Transmission Imaging of Watermarks by Suppression of Occluding Text or Drawings,” Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage 15 (December 2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.daach.2019.e00121.

  21. 21. Sara F. Gorske et al., “Moldmate Identification in 16th-Century European Paper Using Quantitative Analysis of Watermarks, Chain Line Intervals, and Laid Line Density,” International Journal for Digital Art History 5 (March 3, 2021), https://doi.org/10.11588/dah.2020.5.71232.

  22. 22. Ellis and Johnson, “Computational Connoisseurship,” 2; David Stone and David Stork forecast a significant impact from digital image analysis on future connoisseurship in their presentation, “Computer-Assisted Connoisseurship: The Interdisciplinary Science of Computer Vision and Image Analysis in the Study of Art,” at the Third International Workshop on Image Processing for Art Investigation, The Museum of Modern Art, May 27, 2010.

  23. 23. A countermark, made in the same way as a watermark, was often added to the opposite half of the sheet to identify the papermaker, the date, quality, and function of the paper. It can sometimes be difficult to determine if the countermark is, in fact, the primary watermark.

  24. 24. IPH, “Printed Watermark Repertories,” last updated February 22, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Watermark-catalogues;  IPH, “Links: Online Watermark Databases/Catalogues,” accessed August 4, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Links.

  25. 25. Indeed, the primary objective of Erik Hinterding’s catalogue, Rembrandt as an Etcher (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006), is to use the watermarks found in Rembrandt’s prints to assemble a more precise chronology that sheds light on the artist’s production and distribution practices.

  26. 26. Dutch University Institute for Art History, “Watermarks,” accessed March 9, 2021, https://www.niki-florence.org/en/about-the-institute/research/%20projects/watermarks.

  27. 27. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:17n18.

  28. 28. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:48.

  29. 29. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:334–35.

  30. 30. Allan H. Stevenson, “Watermarks are Twins,” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951–52), 57–91.

  31. 31. An earlier collection of an artist’s watermarks in paper used for sketching and writing is Jane Roberts, A Dictionary of Michelangelo’s Watermarks (Milan: Olivetti, 1988).

  32. 32. Andrew C. Weislogel and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations: The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell” in Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings (Ithaca: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2017), 32–57, http://museum.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/DecisionTrees-WeislogelJohnson2017-LinesofInquiry.pdf; C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 12, no. 2 (Summer 2020), https://jhna.org/articles/decision-trees-for-watermark-identification-in-rembrandts-etchings; C. Richard Johnson Jr., “The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell,” recorded December 6, 2018 at The Frick Collection, New York, 1:50:05, https://www.frick.org/interact/wire_project_cornell.

  33. 33. An Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” in Young Rembrandt, ed. An Van Camp, Christopher Brown, and Christiaan Vogelaar (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, 2020), 60n23.

  34. 34. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 61n28.

  35. 35. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 69n75.

  36. 36. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 71n82.

  37. 37. These tools were created with funding from Getty Foundation Digital Art History Initiative Grant ORG-201943572, “Applying Digital Image Processing Algorithms to the Study of Prints and Drawings,” May 2019–June 2021. Currently both require computer expertise no more demanding than knowledge of Adobe’s Photoshop suite. Both the software and user’s guides are available through an open source license now. If you would like to serve as a beta tester, please contact the second author of this article at sethares@wisc.edu  or visit  https://github.com/setharesB/PaperStudies.

  38. 38. This step would be difficult to fully automate due to naturally occurring differences in the clarity or completeness of the two watermark images being compared; for example, one watermark image might be fragmentary or obscured by surface marks, thus preventing automatic marking by the computer. It is left up to the user to decide which precisely locatable or “tie” points to mark and their order for later alignment by the software. As will be seen in Part Two, a sequence of preselected points to mark for specific watermark types would serve as a guide for users and simplify the process even more. 

  39. 39. A screenshot is capable of capturing a still image when both watermarks are visible in their overlay. This approach was used to provide images for the examples presented in this article.

  40. 40. Nancy Ash and Shelley Fletcher, Watermarks in Rembrandt’s Prints (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1998).

  41. 41. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006)

  42. 42. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:185–86.

  43. 43. A description of the WIRE Project at Cornell is provided in Weislogel and Johnson, “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations.”

  44. 44. Allan H. Stevenson, “Watermarks are Twins,” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951–52), 57–91.

  45. 45. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:21–27.

  46. 46. The decision tree can be augmented, as described in Johnson, “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” by generating new yes/no questions about features visible in the watermark fragment under consideration.

  47. 47. Discussed in C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “The Application of Automated Chain Line Pattern (CLiP) Matching to Identify Paper Mouldmate Candidates in Rembrandt’s Prints,” in Rembrandt and His Circle: Insights and Discoveries, ed. Stephanie Dickey. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2017, 319–34.  

  48. 48. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animation41-1-32dpi600-TVW-44(sh).gif. Discovery of this match was first cited in Johnson, “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” n53.

  49. 49. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:185–86.

  50. 50. Thea Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung (Hirmer: Munich, 2001), 180–81.

  51. 51. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier, 170–74.

  52. 52. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:58.

  53. 53. Leonore van Sloten, “Ferdinand Bol, the Etcher” in Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck: Rembrandt’s Master Pupils, ed. N. Middelkoop (Zwolle: WBooks, 2017), 219–20.

  54. 54. Images of these different variations appear in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 3:195–243.

  55. 55. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:116–37.

  56. 56. The IPH website contains a long list of printed catalogues of watermarks (“Printed Watermark Repertories,” last modified February 22, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Watermark-catalogues) and a separate list of links to more than twenty online catalogues (“Links: Online Watermark Databases/Catalogues,” accessed March 9, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Links), including the Bernstein Consortium’s “The Memory of Paper” (last modified January 15, 2021, https://www.memoryofpaper.eu/BernsteinPortal), which is a well-known portal to forty-two watermark databases with more than 254,000 watermarks.

  57. 57. “LIMA: Watermark Databases,” website for the Centre of the Study of the Renaissance, Warwick University, accessed January 19, 2021, https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/archive-research-old/lima/paper/describing/databases.

  58. 58. For example, Mark Van Staalduinen, “Content-Based Paper Retrieval Towards Reconstruction of Art History” (PhD diss., Delft University of Technology, 2010); Plamen Doynov, “Framework for Automatic Identification of Paper Watermarks with Chain Codes” (PhD diss., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2017); and David Picard, Thomas Henn, and Georg Dietz, “Non-Negative Dictionary Learning for Paper Watermark Similarity,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Asilomar Conference, 133–36.

  59. 59. For example, Vinaychandran Pondenkandath et al., “Cross-Depicted Historical Motif Categorization and Retrieval with Deep Learning,” Journal of Imaging 6(7), no. 71 (July 15, 2020), https://www.mdpi.com/2313-433X/6/7/71; and Oumayma Bounou et al., “A Web Application for Watermark Recognition,” Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities 24, no. 45 (July 17, 2020), https://jdmdh.episciences.org/6570.

  60. 60. Lucia P. Pardo and Giles Bergel, “Watermarks: New Ways to See and Search Them” (blog post), National Archives, London, July 30, 2020, https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/watermarks-new-ways-to-see-and-search-them.

  61. 61. The images in this article are from beta-radiographs of prints by Rembrandt in the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, the collection of radiographs of seventeenth-century Dutch prints held by the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence, Theo and Frans Laurentius’s Watermarks 1600–1650: Found in the Zeeland Archives (’t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2007), and images in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher.

  62. 62. The procedure uses three free programs that can be obtained from the second author of this article via email to sethares@wisc.edu. A description of the operation of the three programs used in this procedure is provided in Appendix 2. An explanation of the mathematics for computing the average alignment error used to rank the fit of one watermark against another appears in Appendix 3.

  63. 63. Images of these different variations appear in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 3:195–243.

  64. 64. See https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/AWI-Appendix1.pdf

  65. 65. Such an effort is currently underway for Hinterding’s entire catalogue of Rembrandt watermarks.

  66. 66. Here “peak” includes the ball at the end of the peak.

  67. 67. Here “peak” includes the ball at the end of the peak.

  68. 68. If there is no intersection with either of the two lines forming the first collar point, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  69. 69. If there is no braid, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  70. 70. If there is no intersection with either of the two lines forming the fifth collar point, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  71. 71. For more information on the print exhibiting this watermark, see “The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren on the Amstel,” website of The Morgan Library & Museum, accessed March 9, 2021, https://www.themorgan.org/rembrandt/print/161999.

  72. 72. This identification is confirmed by this overlay video https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationF5PC-K-a-a-Morgan294(sh).gif.

  73. 73. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:296.

  74. 74. Such discoveries of new watermarks have been made by the WIRE Project at Cornell, as noted in Weislogel and Johnson, “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations, 32–57.

  75. 75. See https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/AWI-Appendix1.pdf.

  76. 76. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationEH002026-F5PC-K-e-a(sh).gif

  77. 77. Erik Hinterding, “Rembrandt and Van Vliet: The Watermark” in Rembrandt and Van Vliet: A Collaboration on Copper, ed. Christian Schuckman, Martin Royalton, and Erik Hinterding (Amsterdam: Museum het Rembrandthuis, 1996), 24–37; and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:83–92.

  78. 78. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:131–32, 390–91, 416.

  79. 79. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650.

  80. 80. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650, 32.

  81. 81. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL483-F5PC-H-b-a(sh).gif.

  82. 82. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:124.

  83. 83. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650, 34, 233, 234.

  84. 84. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL545a-F5PC-H-b-b(sh).gif.

  85. 85. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:124.

  86. 86. Frans Laurentius to first author of this article, February 22, 2021: “You will probably find many more matches with our books; over the years we found that the use of paper in the Netherlands is uniform in the 17th century. Paper used in for instance Middelburg will not differ with paper used in Amsterdam or Groningen. Rembrandt’s papers are therefore a mirror of what was imported and used in Amsterdam and indeed in the Netherlands. . . . In our Ostade research we also found the same watermarks, for instance.”

  87. 87. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationCNTRMRK-PR-a_Rpk-OB-248-L545b(sh).gif.

  88. 88. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:91.

  89. 89. The computer programs described in this article are all available through an open source license. If you would like to serve as a beta tester, please contact the second author of this article at sethares@wisc.edu or visit  https://github.com/setharesB/PaperStudies  

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—, “The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell,” recorded December 6, 2018 at The Frick Collection, New York, 1:50:05, https://www.frick.org/interact/wire_project_cornell.

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List of Illustrations

Fig. 1 The manufactured patterns found in paper reflect the unique characteristics of the papermaking mold used to form it. Papers made from the same mold—moldmates—share subtle variations in watermark details, chain line intervals, and laid line densities measured in lines per centimeter. The filone supplementare, or supplemental wire, is characteristic of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century papers produced in the vicinity of Fabriano. See S. R. Albro, Fabriano: City of Medieval and Renaissance Papermaking (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2016), 147. Drawing by A. Slawik [side-by-side viewer]
2. Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 2 Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves (The Three Crosses), 1653, state B78iii, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 41.1.32 [side-by-side viewer]
3. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 3 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 2), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
4. Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78ii-MorganLibrary
Fig. 4 Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ Crucified Between Two Thieves (The Three Crosses), 1653, state B78ii, The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, RvR 122 [side-by-side viewer]
5. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78ii
Fig. 5 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78ii (fig. 4), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
6. MarkedStrasbourgBendWatermark-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii
Fig. 6 Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 3) [side-by-side viewer]
7. StrasbourgBend-B78ii
Fig. 7 Still of Overlay Video, Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78ii (fig. 5) [side-by-side viewer]
8. StrasbourgBend-DecisionTree-WIRE
Fig. 8 Strasbourg Bend decision tree from WIRE Project at Cornell [side-by-side viewer]
9. StrasbourgBend-DecisionTree-D'a
Fig. 9 Strasbourg Bend decision tree path to D’.a.a and D’.a.b [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 10 Overlay GIF of marked Strasbourg Bend watermarks (figs. 6 and 7). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animation41-1-32dpi600-RVR122B78iiBetadpi400(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
11. Rembrandt-Medea-B112iv-Morgan.jpg
Fig. 11 Rembrandt van Rijn, Medea, or the Marriage of Jason and Creusa, 1648, B112iv, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, RvR 178 [side-by-side viewer]
12. Radiograph-Rembrandt-Medea-B112iv
Fig. 12 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Medea, B112iv (fig. 11), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
13. Rembrandt-ArtistMother-B344-Morgan
Fig. 13 Rembrandt van Rijn, The Artist’s Mother in Widow’s Dress and Black Gloves, ca. 1635, B344, The Morgan Library & Museum, RvR 459 [side-by-side viewer]
14. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ArtistMother-B344
Fig. 14 Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Artist’s Mother, B344 (fig. 13), Radiograph by R. Snyder [side-by-side viewer]
15. Marked-FoolscapWatermark-B112iv
Fig. 15 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark, B112iv (fig. 12) [side-by-side viewer]
16. Marked-FoolscapWatermark-B344
Fig. 16 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark B344 (fig. 14) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 17 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks (figs. 15 and 16). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationRVR178B112ivBeta-RVR459B344Beta(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 2a Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, state B78iii (fig. 2) [side-by-side viewer]
3a. Radiograph-Rembrandt-ChristCrucified-B78iii-Met
Fig. 3a Radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, state B78iii (fig. 3) [side-by-side viewer]
18. Bol-SolomonOfferingSacrifice-RembrandtAufPapier
Fig. 18 Ferdinand Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice of Peace Offerings (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
Ferdinand Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice of Peace Offerings
Fig. 19 Radiograph of watermark, Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 6a Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Rembrandt, Christ Crucified, B78iii (fig. 6) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 19a Marked Strasbourg Bend watermark, Bol, Solomon Offering a Sacrifice (fig. 19) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 20 Overlay GIF of marked Strasbourg Bend watermarks (figs. 6 and 19). See also  https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationRVR178B112ivBeta-RVR459B344Beta(sh) [side-by-side viewer]
21. IHS-Countermark-RembrandtAufPapier
Fig. 21 Marked IHS countermark, Graphische Sammlung München, 1741 (image from T. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung [Hirmer: Munich, 2001] ©Staatliche Graphische Sammlung München) [side-by-side viewer]
22. IHS-Countermark-Hinterding
Fig. 22 Marked IHS countermark, Hinterding E.b (image from E. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, vol. 3 [Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision Publishers, 2006]) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 23 Overlay GIF of marked IHS countermarks (figs. 21 and 22). See also  https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationTVW-41-IHS-E-b_PVN-B283v(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
24. Marked-Radiograph-Rembrandt-BridgeKostverloren-B208ii-Morgan-RVR294
Fig. 24 Marked beta radiograph of watermark in Rembrandt van Rijn, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren on the Amstel, 1645, B208ii, The Morgan Library and Museum. RVR 294 beta radiograph by Reba Snyder (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 25 Average alignment errors for Morgan RVR 294 (fig. 24) in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 24a Marked beta radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 24) [side-by-side viewer]
26. Watermark-Remrbandt-BridgeKleinKostverloren-B208ii-Morgan_RvR294
Fig. 26 Watermark in Rembrandt van Rijn, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, 1645, B208ii [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 26a Watermark in Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 26) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 24b Marked beta radiograph of watermark, Rembrandt, The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren, B208ii (fig. 24) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 25a Average alignment errors for Morgan RVR 294 (fig. 25) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 27 Overlay GIF of radiograph watermark (marked and unmarked) in figs. 24 and 26. See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationF5PC-K-a-a-Morgan294(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
28. Marked-Radiograph-JanGilliszVanVliet-OldWomanReading-B18ii-NIKI_EH002026
Fig. 28 Marked radiograph EH002026 of watermark in Jan Gillisz van Vliet, Old Woman Reading, B18ii, from the watermark collection of the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence. Publication permission granted by Gert Jan van der Sman, NIKI (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 29 Average alignment errors for NIKI EH002026 (fig. 28) in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 30 Overlay GIF of marked radiograph, Van Vliet, Old Woman Reading, B18ii (fig. 28) – https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationEH002026-F5PC-K-e-a(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
31. MarkedFoolscap5PtCollar_n483_Laurentius
Fig. 31 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 483 from Theo and Frans Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650: Found in the Zeeland Archives (’t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2007), Publication permission granted by Frans Laurentius (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 32 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 483 in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar Watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 33 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark (fig. 31). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL483-F5PC-H-b-a(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
34. MarkedFoolscap5PtCollar-Laurentius 545a
Fig. 34 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 545a from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650 (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 35 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 545a in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 36 Overlay GIF of marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark (fig. 34). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL545a-F5PC-H-b-b(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
37. MarkedFoolscap5ptCollar-Laurentius544a
Fig. 37 Marked Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar watermark number 544a from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650. Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 38 Average alignment errors for Laurentius 544a in comparison to marked images of Foolscaps with Five-Pointed Collar watermarks in Appendix 1 [side-by-side viewer]
39. Marked-PRcounterpart-a.Hinterding-Rembrandt
Fig. 39 Marked PR countermark, PR.a from Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006). Publication permission granted by Sound & Vision Publishers BV (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
40. Marked-PRcounterpart-Laurentius545b
Fig. 40 Marked PR countermark, watermark 545b from Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650. (Marking by C. Richard Johnson Jr.) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 41 Overlay GIF of marked PR countermarks (figs. 39 and 40). See also https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationCNTRMRK-PR-a_Rpk-OB-248-L545b(sh).gif [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 42 The graphical user interface for the selection of the corresponding points between images (with the first five of the eleven to be marked in the Foolscap with Five-Pointed Collar) [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 43 The graphical user interface for watermarkLibrarySearch. After the user selects a folder containing pre-marked watermark images and a single (usually unknown) watermark, the module calculates the alignment error between the unknown and each of the members of the library, as described in Appendix 3. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 44 The graphical user interface for the generation of overlay animations uses the output of watermarkPointMarker to guide the creation of the animation. Careful observation of the video is the final step in determining the moldmate status of the watermark images. [side-by-side viewer]
Fig. 45 Sets of points marking the left-hand figure are labeled with x and y (and subscripted by i), while the corresponding points on the right are labeled with the overbars (The case i=5 is shown). The affine mapping from left to right is given by the matrix A and vector b. The bounding box of each set of labels is used to scale the error so that the comparison becomes independent of the resolution of the watermarked images. [side-by-side viewer]

Footnotes

  1. 1. “Comparability” refers to the equivalency of visibility, completeness, scale, orientation, resolution, degree of sameness, and overall quality between existing watermark images. Manually comparing watermark images having vastly different degrees of comparability is extremely difficult and leads to inaccurate conclusions.

  2. 2. Margaret Holben Ellis and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Computational Connoisseurship: Enhanced Examination Using Automated Image Analysis,” Visual Resources 35, nos. 1–2 (March–June 2019), 125–40.

  3. 3. Ernst van de Wetering, “The Canvas Support,” in Rembrandt: The Painter at Work (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 90–130.

  4. 4. Kristin Hoermann Lister, Cornelia Peres, and Inge Fiedler, “Tracing an Interaction: Supporting Evidence, Experimental Grounds” in Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Studio of the South, ed. Douglas W. Druick and Peter Kort Zegers (London: Thames and Hudson, 2001), 354–69.

  5. 5. Don H. Johnson, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Robert G. Erdmann, “Weave Analysis of Paintings on Canvas from Radiographs,” Signal Processing 93, no. 3 (March 2013), 527–40.

  6. 6. Louis van Tilborgh et al., “Weave Matching and Dating of Van Gogh’s Paintings: An Interdisciplinary Approach,” Burlington Magazine 154, no. 1307 (February 2012), 112–22.

  7. 7. For example, Pablo Perez d’Ors, C. Richard  Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Velázquez in Fraga: A New Hypothesis about the Portraits of El Primo and Philip IV,” Burlington Magazine 154, no. 1314 (September 2012), 620–25; and Walter Liedtke, C. Richard Johnson Jr., and Don H. Johnson, “Canvas Matches in Vermeer: A Case Study in the Computer Analysis of Fabric Supports,” Metropolitan Museum Journal 47 (2012), 99–106.

  8. 8. C. Richard Johnson Jr. and William A. Sethares, eds., Counting Vermeer: Using Weave Maps to Study Vermeer’s Canvases, Appendix II: Matches (The Hague: RKD Studies, 2017), https://countingvermeer.rkdstudies.nl

  9. 9. Use of these tools is illustrated in C. Richard Johnson Jr. and William A. Sethares, “Hunting for Weave Matches: Computation in Art Scholarship,” Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy 12 (February 2018), https://jitp.commons.gc.cuny.edu/hunting-for-weave-matches-computation-in-art-scholarship.

  10. 10. For example, Laurens van der Maaten and Robert G. Erdmann, “Automatic Thread-Level Canvas Analysis: A Machine-Learning Approach to Analyzing the Canvas of Paintings,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 38–45; and Haizhao Yang et al., “Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis Using 2-D Synchrosqueezed Transforms: Application of Time-Frequency Analysis to Art Investigation,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 55–63.

  11. 11. Paul Messier, “Image Isn’t Everything: Revealing Affinities Across Collections Through the Language of the Photographic Print,” Object: Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection 1909–1949, ed. Mitra Abbaspour, Lee Ann Daffner, and Maria Morris Hambourg (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2014), 5. The report on the “Historic Photographic Paper Challenge” is described in C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “Pursuing Automated Classification of Historic Photographic Papers from Raking Light Images,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 53, no. 3 (2014), 159–70.

  12. 12. Paul Messier et al., “Automated Surface Texture Classification of Inkjet and Photographic Media,” Technical Program and Proceedings: NIP29: The 29th International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies (Springfield, VA: The Society for Imaging Science and Technologies, 2013), 85–91.

  13. 13. Patrice Abry, Andrew G. Klein, Paul Messier, et al., “Wove Paper Analysis through Texture Similarities,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Annual Asilomar Conference on Signals, Systems, and Computers (ASILOMAR 2016) (Pacific Grove, CA: IEEE, 2016), 144–48.

  14. 14. For example, Allan H. Stevenson, “Chain-Indentations in Paper as Evidence,” Studies in Bibliography 6 (1954), 181–95; and David Vander Meulen, “The Identification of Paper without Watermarks: The Example of Pope’s ‘Dunciad,’” Studies in Bibliography 37 (1984), 58–81.

  15. 15. Item 3.2.4 in International Association of Paper Historians (hereafter IPH), “International Standard for the Registration of Papers with or without Watermarks,” version 2.1.1 (2013), http://www.paperhistory.org/Standards/IPHN2.1.1_en.pdf.

  16. 16. For example, Jan C. A. van der Lubbe, Eugene P. van Someren, and Marcel J. T. Reinders, “Dating and Authentication of Rembrandt’s Etchings with the Help of Computational Intelligence,” in International Cultural Heritage Informatics: Proceedings from ichim01 (Milan and Pittsburgh: Archives and Museum Informatics, 2001), 485–92; and C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “Hunting for Paper Moldmates Among Rembrandt’s Prints,” IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 32, no. 4 (July 2015), 28–37.

  17. 17. Xuelie Xi, Devin Conathan, Amanda House, et al., “Automated Chain Line Marking and Pattern Matching in Radiographs of Rembrandt’s Prints,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Annual Asilomar Conference, 1–9.

  18. 18. This agrees with results from experiments on a different dataset with a different computational procedure, in Mark Van Staalduinen, “Content-Based Paper Retrieval Towards Reconstruction of Art History” (PhD diss., Delft University of Technology, 2010).

  19. 19. Counting the “number of laid lines over a distance of 20 mm” at various points in the paper is included as item 3.2.3 in IPH, “International Standard for the Registration of Papers with or without Watermarks.”

  20. 20. Transmitted-light images have difficulty revealing the inner structural properties of paper for heavily inked artworks. They are more likely to be useful with drawings and writing, given digital image processing tools that can remove the surface images from a transmitted-light image. Examples of such tools appear in William A. Sethares, Margaret Holben Ellis, and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Computational Watermark Enhancement in Leonardo’s Codex Leicester,” Journal of American Institute for Conservation 59, no. 2 (March 2020), 87–96; and Pablo Ruiz et al., “Visible Transmission Imaging of Watermarks by Suppression of Occluding Text or Drawings,” Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage 15 (December 2019), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.daach.2019.e00121.

  21. 21. Sara F. Gorske et al., “Moldmate Identification in 16th-Century European Paper Using Quantitative Analysis of Watermarks, Chain Line Intervals, and Laid Line Density,” International Journal for Digital Art History 5 (March 3, 2021), https://doi.org/10.11588/dah.2020.5.71232.

  22. 22. Ellis and Johnson, “Computational Connoisseurship,” 2; David Stone and David Stork forecast a significant impact from digital image analysis on future connoisseurship in their presentation, “Computer-Assisted Connoisseurship: The Interdisciplinary Science of Computer Vision and Image Analysis in the Study of Art,” at the Third International Workshop on Image Processing for Art Investigation, The Museum of Modern Art, May 27, 2010.

  23. 23. A countermark, made in the same way as a watermark, was often added to the opposite half of the sheet to identify the papermaker, the date, quality, and function of the paper. It can sometimes be difficult to determine if the countermark is, in fact, the primary watermark.

  24. 24. IPH, “Printed Watermark Repertories,” last updated February 22, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Watermark-catalogues;  IPH, “Links: Online Watermark Databases/Catalogues,” accessed August 4, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Links.

  25. 25. Indeed, the primary objective of Erik Hinterding’s catalogue, Rembrandt as an Etcher (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006), is to use the watermarks found in Rembrandt’s prints to assemble a more precise chronology that sheds light on the artist’s production and distribution practices.

  26. 26. Dutch University Institute for Art History, “Watermarks,” accessed March 9, 2021, https://www.niki-florence.org/en/about-the-institute/research/%20projects/watermarks.

  27. 27. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:17n18.

  28. 28. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:48.

  29. 29. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:334–35.

  30. 30. Allan H. Stevenson, “Watermarks are Twins,” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951–52), 57–91.

  31. 31. An earlier collection of an artist’s watermarks in paper used for sketching and writing is Jane Roberts, A Dictionary of Michelangelo’s Watermarks (Milan: Olivetti, 1988).

  32. 32. Andrew C. Weislogel and C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations: The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell” in Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings (Ithaca: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, 2017), 32–57, http://museum.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/DecisionTrees-WeislogelJohnson2017-LinesofInquiry.pdf; C. Richard Johnson Jr., “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 12, no. 2 (Summer 2020), https://jhna.org/articles/decision-trees-for-watermark-identification-in-rembrandts-etchings; C. Richard Johnson Jr., “The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell,” recorded December 6, 2018 at The Frick Collection, New York, 1:50:05, https://www.frick.org/interact/wire_project_cornell.

  33. 33. An Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” in Young Rembrandt, ed. An Van Camp, Christopher Brown, and Christiaan Vogelaar (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, 2020), 60n23.

  34. 34. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 61n28.

  35. 35. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 69n75.

  36. 36. Van Camp, “Rembrandt’s Early Works on Paper,” 71n82.

  37. 37. These tools were created with funding from Getty Foundation Digital Art History Initiative Grant ORG-201943572, “Applying Digital Image Processing Algorithms to the Study of Prints and Drawings,” May 2019–June 2021. Currently both require computer expertise no more demanding than knowledge of Adobe’s Photoshop suite. Both the software and user’s guides are available through an open source license now. If you would like to serve as a beta tester, please contact the second author of this article at sethares@wisc.edu  or visit  https://github.com/setharesB/PaperStudies.

  38. 38. This step would be difficult to fully automate due to naturally occurring differences in the clarity or completeness of the two watermark images being compared; for example, one watermark image might be fragmentary or obscured by surface marks, thus preventing automatic marking by the computer. It is left up to the user to decide which precisely locatable or “tie” points to mark and their order for later alignment by the software. As will be seen in Part Two, a sequence of preselected points to mark for specific watermark types would serve as a guide for users and simplify the process even more. 

  39. 39. A screenshot is capable of capturing a still image when both watermarks are visible in their overlay. This approach was used to provide images for the examples presented in this article.

  40. 40. Nancy Ash and Shelley Fletcher, Watermarks in Rembrandt’s Prints (Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1998).

  41. 41. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, 2006)

  42. 42. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:185–86.

  43. 43. A description of the WIRE Project at Cornell is provided in Weislogel and Johnson, “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations.”

  44. 44. Allan H. Stevenson, “Watermarks are Twins,” Studies in Bibliography 4 (1951–52), 57–91.

  45. 45. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:21–27.

  46. 46. The decision tree can be augmented, as described in Johnson, “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” by generating new yes/no questions about features visible in the watermark fragment under consideration.

  47. 47. Discussed in C. Richard Johnson Jr. et al., “The Application of Automated Chain Line Pattern (CLiP) Matching to Identify Paper Mouldmate Candidates in Rembrandt’s Prints,” in Rembrandt and His Circle: Insights and Discoveries, ed. Stephanie Dickey. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press, 2017, 319–34.  

  48. 48. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animation41-1-32dpi600-TVW-44(sh).gif. Discovery of this match was first cited in Johnson, “Decision Trees for Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings,” n53.

  49. 49. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:185–86.

  50. 50. Thea Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier: Werk und Wirkung (Hirmer: Munich, 2001), 180–81.

  51. 51. Vignau-Wilberg, Rembrandt auf Papier, 170–74.

  52. 52. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:58.

  53. 53. Leonore van Sloten, “Ferdinand Bol, the Etcher” in Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck: Rembrandt’s Master Pupils, ed. N. Middelkoop (Zwolle: WBooks, 2017), 219–20.

  54. 54. Images of these different variations appear in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 3:195–243.

  55. 55. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:116–37.

  56. 56. The IPH website contains a long list of printed catalogues of watermarks (“Printed Watermark Repertories,” last modified February 22, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Watermark-catalogues) and a separate list of links to more than twenty online catalogues (“Links: Online Watermark Databases/Catalogues,” accessed March 9, 2021, http://www.paperhistory.org/Links), including the Bernstein Consortium’s “The Memory of Paper” (last modified January 15, 2021, https://www.memoryofpaper.eu/BernsteinPortal), which is a well-known portal to forty-two watermark databases with more than 254,000 watermarks.

  57. 57. “LIMA: Watermark Databases,” website for the Centre of the Study of the Renaissance, Warwick University, accessed January 19, 2021, https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/ren/archive-research-old/lima/paper/describing/databases.

  58. 58. For example, Mark Van Staalduinen, “Content-Based Paper Retrieval Towards Reconstruction of Art History” (PhD diss., Delft University of Technology, 2010); Plamen Doynov, “Framework for Automatic Identification of Paper Watermarks with Chain Codes” (PhD diss., University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2017); and David Picard, Thomas Henn, and Georg Dietz, “Non-Negative Dictionary Learning for Paper Watermark Similarity,” Proceedings of the 50th IEEE Asilomar Conference, 133–36.

  59. 59. For example, Vinaychandran Pondenkandath et al., “Cross-Depicted Historical Motif Categorization and Retrieval with Deep Learning,” Journal of Imaging 6(7), no. 71 (July 15, 2020), https://www.mdpi.com/2313-433X/6/7/71; and Oumayma Bounou et al., “A Web Application for Watermark Recognition,” Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities 24, no. 45 (July 17, 2020), https://jdmdh.episciences.org/6570.

  60. 60. Lucia P. Pardo and Giles Bergel, “Watermarks: New Ways to See and Search Them” (blog post), National Archives, London, July 30, 2020, https://blog.nationalarchives.gov.uk/watermarks-new-ways-to-see-and-search-them.

  61. 61. The images in this article are from beta-radiographs of prints by Rembrandt in the collection of the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, the collection of radiographs of seventeenth-century Dutch prints held by the Dutch University Institute for Art History in Florence, Theo and Frans Laurentius’s Watermarks 1600–1650: Found in the Zeeland Archives (’t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graaf, 2007), and images in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher.

  62. 62. The procedure uses three free programs that can be obtained from the second author of this article via email to sethares@wisc.edu. A description of the operation of the three programs used in this procedure is provided in Appendix 2. An explanation of the mathematics for computing the average alignment error used to rank the fit of one watermark against another appears in Appendix 3.

  63. 63. Images of these different variations appear in Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 3:195–243.

  64. 64. See https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/AWI-Appendix1.pdf

  65. 65. Such an effort is currently underway for Hinterding’s entire catalogue of Rembrandt watermarks.

  66. 66. Here “peak” includes the ball at the end of the peak.

  67. 67. Here “peak” includes the ball at the end of the peak.

  68. 68. If there is no intersection with either of the two lines forming the first collar point, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  69. 69. If there is no braid, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  70. 70. If there is no intersection with either of the two lines forming the fifth collar point, this point is to be skipped, but the numbering sequence must remain intact.

  71. 71. For more information on the print exhibiting this watermark, see “The Bridge at Klein Kostverloren on the Amstel,” website of The Morgan Library & Museum, accessed March 9, 2021, https://www.themorgan.org/rembrandt/print/161999.

  72. 72. This identification is confirmed by this overlay video https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationF5PC-K-a-a-Morgan294(sh).gif.

  73. 73. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:296.

  74. 74. Such discoveries of new watermarks have been made by the WIRE Project at Cornell, as noted in Weislogel and Johnson, “Decision Trees and Fruitful Collaborations, 32–57.

  75. 75. See https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/AWI-Appendix1.pdf.

  76. 76. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationEH002026-F5PC-K-e-a(sh).gif

  77. 77. Erik Hinterding, “Rembrandt and Van Vliet: The Watermark” in Rembrandt and Van Vliet: A Collaboration on Copper, ed. Christian Schuckman, Martin Royalton, and Erik Hinterding (Amsterdam: Museum het Rembrandthuis, 1996), 24–37; and Erik Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 1:83–92.

  78. 78. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:131–32, 390–91, 416.

  79. 79. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650.

  80. 80. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650, 32.

  81. 81. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL483-F5PC-H-b-a(sh).gif.

  82. 82. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:124.

  83. 83. Laurentius, Watermarks 1600–1650, 34, 233, 234.

  84. 84. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationL545a-F5PC-H-b-b(sh).gif.

  85. 85. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:124.

  86. 86. Frans Laurentius to first author of this article, February 22, 2021: “You will probably find many more matches with our books; over the years we found that the use of paper in the Netherlands is uniform in the 17th century. Paper used in for instance Middelburg will not differ with paper used in Amsterdam or Groningen. Rembrandt’s papers are therefore a mirror of what was imported and used in Amsterdam and indeed in the Netherlands. . . . In our Ostade research we also found the same watermarks, for instance.”

  87. 87. https://people.ece.cornell.edu/johnson/animationCNTRMRK-PR-a_Rpk-OB-248-L545b(sh).gif.

  88. 88. Hinterding, Rembrandt as an Etcher, 2:91.

  89. 89. The computer programs described in this article are all available through an open source license. If you would like to serve as a beta tester, please contact the second author of this article at sethares@wisc.edu or visit  https://github.com/setharesB/PaperStudies  

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—, “The Watermark Identification in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) Project at Cornell,” recorded December 6, 2018 at The Frick Collection, New York, 1:50:05, https://www.frick.org/interact/wire_project_cornell.

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Review: Peer Review (Double Blind)
DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.1
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Recommended Citation:
C. Richard Johnson Jr., William A. Sethares, Margaret Holben Ellis, "Overlay Videos for Quick and Accurate Watermark Identification, Comparison, and Matching," Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art 13:2 (Summer 2021) DOI: 10.5092/jhna.2021.13.2.1