Limor Fried’s Artful Electronics

In 1880, Giovanni Morelli, a sixty-four-year-old critic and historian from Italy, caused a sensation in the art world. In a book published under the pseudonym Ivan Lermolieff, an anagram of his own name, Morelli argued that the authorship of dozens of paintings then hanging in the great galleries of Europe needed to be reattributed. A Venus that was thought to be a copy by Sassoferrato of a lost Titian was actually one of just a handful of surviving paintings by the elusive Giorgione; a sketch of a young man’s head and hand, ascribed to Raphael, must instead be credited to a nameless “Northern master.” Morelli’s book launched the Morellian system of connoisseurship, with which the work of each of the Italian Renaissance painters could be identified by means of the characteristic ways in which they depicted small, seemingly insignificant details—earlobes, leaves, and the like.

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