Anticipating artistic behavior: New research tools for art historians

Robert Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The author applies David Galenson's work on the life cycles of modern artists to the study of the paintings of old masters, from about the early fifteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. Both the potential use of technical examination of paintings and the role of drawings for preconceiving compositions are explored as means for interpreting artistic behavior among premodern artists. Using a study of illustrations in texts to establish a list of canonical painters and the relative dates in which they are believed to have contributed their most important paintings, the author then analyzes a series of old master painters' working methods, demonstrating how their creative behavior corresponds to what their respective life cycles would suggest. Thus, the study of artists' life cycles could anticipate the use of optical and other mechanical devices for the production of premodern paintings based on such studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
JournalHistorical Methods
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • David Galenson
  • David Hockney
  • History and uses of drawing
  • Johannes Vermeer
  • Rembrandt van Rijn
  • Technical examination of paintings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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