Recently, statistical techniques have been used to assist art historians in the analysis of works of art. We present a novel technique for the quantification of artistic style that utilizes a sparse coding model. Originally developed in vision research, sparse coding models can be trained to represent any image space by maximizing the kurtosis of a representation of an arbitrarily selected image from that space. We apply such an analysis to successfully distinguish a set of authentic drawings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder from another set of well-known Bruegel imitations. We show that our approach, which involves a direct comparison based on a single relevant statistic, offers a natural and potentially more germane alternative to wavelet-based classification techniques that rely on more complicated statistical frameworks. Specifically, we show that our model provides a method capable of discriminating between authentic and imitation Bruegel drawings that numerically outperforms well-known existing approaches. Finally, we discuss the applications and constraints of our technique.
You can download the pdf here.