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We review the recent application of computer graphics to problems in the history and interpretation of master artworks. Carefully constructed computer graphics models of tableaus in paintings allow scholars to explore "what if" scenarios concerning lighting, geometry, placement of subjects, physical properties (such as color and reflectance characteristics), and more. A special application of computer graphics is to dewarp images depicted in spherical mirrors, such as appear in works from the northern Renaissance, thus revealing new views into artists' studios. We present a number of methodological recommendations to help ensure the results of such studies are valid. We describe some successes of these new techniques and conclude by discussing several outstanding problems and future directions for the use of computer graphics in the analysis of realist art.
Date of Conference: 9-12 Sept. 2009