“Artist attribution” refers to the scholarly and systematic process of identifying and assigning the authorship of a work of art to a specific artist or artistic workshop. Artist attribution aims to establish a reliable and well-supported link between an artwork and a particular artist, ensuring the accurate cataloging and recognition of the artist’s contributions to art history. Attribution is a fundamental aspect of art historical research and is often the subject of rigorous examination and analysis. 

Key elements and concepts associated with artist attribution in the academic context include: 

Stylistic Analysis: Artist attribution relies heavily on examining an artwork’s style, encompassing elements such as brushwork, composition, color palette, technique, and artistic idiosyncrasies. These features are compared to those found in the body of work of a known artist. 

Comparative Analysis: Comparative analysis involves comparing the artwork in question with authenticated works by the same artist or from the same artistic period, school, or movement. The goal is to identify similarities or distinctive characteristics. 

Documentary Evidence: Artist attribution may involve the examination of historical documents, archives, letters, and other written records that provide information about the artist’s involvement with the artwork or the commission of the work. 

Provenance and Ownership History: The object’s provenance and ownership history, if well-documented, can provide valuable clues about its authorship and association with a particular artist. 

Technical Analysis: Scientific and technical methods, such as pigment analysis, radiography, and ultraviolet examination, can reveal hidden details and support attributions by confirming the artist’s working methods and materials. 

Expert Opinion: Art historians, connoisseurs, and specialists in specific artists or movements often provide expert opinions and attributions based on their knowledge and expertise. 

Controversies and Disputes: Attribution can be a subject of debate and controversy in the art world, especially when multiple experts have differing opinions about the authorship of a work. 

Authentication: A successful attribution leads to the authentication of an artwork, confirming its status as a genuine creation by a particular artist. Authentication may be conducted by experts or specialized committees. 

Art Market Impact: The attribution of an artwork to a renowned artist can significantly impact its market value, as authenticated works by well-known artists are often more sought after and valuable. 

Art Historical Significance: Correct artist attribution is central to the art historical scholarship as it contributes to our understanding of artistic production, influences, and the cultural context in which artists worked. 

Artist attribution is a complex and multifaceted endeavor that requires a combination of art historical expertise, critical analysis, and, in some cases, scientific methods. Accurate attribution is essential for responsible stewardship of art collections, developing art historical knowledge, and preserving an artist’s legacy within the broader context of art history.