Raphael: “The De Brecy Tondo”

The Sistine Madonna

The art world was take aback in early 2023 when the de Brecy Tondo Madonna was labeled a Raphael masterpiece through AI analysis by Bradford University, revealing a 95% similarity to Raphael’s Sistine Madonna. However, our technology yielded an unexpected outcome.

Case Study: The De Brecy Tondo Authentication Controversy: Evaluating AI’s Role in Art Authentication

In early 2023, the art world was abuzz with the revelation that the de Brecy Tondo Madonna had been authenticated as a masterpiece by Raphael through an AI system. The announcement from Bradford University in the UK reported a 95 percent resemblance between the Tondo Madonna and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden. At Art Recognition, we found these revelations intriguing and decided to conduct our own analysis of the painting. Our AI model returned an 85% probability that the artwork was not created by Raphael. This unforeseen development piqued our curiosity, motivating us to delve deeper into this matter.

Operational Principles of AI Systems. The discrepancy between the two AI systems, developed at Bradford University and Art Recognition respectively, stems from their distinct operational principles. Bradford’s AI focuses on facial recognition, trained on datasets of faces, which can produce high similarity scores between images depicting the same individual, regardless of variations in face orientation, lighting, or quality. This program, while proficient in recognizing similar faces, isn’t in fact made for artwork authentication.

Conversely, at Art Recognition, we employ a different approach, considering various artistic elements like brushstrokes, chromatics, and object placements. Our training datasets, curated by a team of art historians and AI developers, encompass authentic artworks and a wide range of negative examples, helping the AI model to distinguish genuine art from counterfeits and providing a probability assessment for authenticity determination.

The divergent results can be attributed to these different approaches. The Bradford group is yet to establish a clear link between facial similarity scores and art authentication, but intends to refine their model in forthcoming research.

The growing influence of AI in the art world demands transparency and accountability. The complexity of AI models necessitates rigorous scrutiny by peers and validation from the scientific community before deployment as a market tool. This ongoing debate sheds light on the intricate factors that influence the use of AI in determining art authenticity and suggests an evolving discourse on effectively employing this tool within the art community.

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