A digital analysis of 8,798 paintings produced over a historical period of 800 years shows that works of art have become more colorful and more complex in terms of brightness and contrast since the medieval period.
The researchers also measured the development of changing styles during the Renaissance era, with increasing brightness and contrast more common in later pieces by artists such as Rembrandt, compared to earlier pieces by artists such as da Vinci. .
Hawoong Jeong of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and colleagues classified the paintings into 10 historical periods: Medieval, Early Renaissance, Northern Renaissance, High Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism and realism.
The increase in the brightness contrast noted by the analyzes reflects the evolution of pictorial techniques during the Renaissance, such as sfumato (expressing a gradual fade between the object and
background, used by Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519) and chiaroscuro (strong contrasts between light and dark, used by Rembrandt van Rijin, 1606-1669).
The authors, reporting their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, claim that their use of scientific techniques to analyze paintings provides a bridge between the worlds of art.