Quantitative Canvas Weave Analysis Using 2-D Synchrosqueezed Transforms: Application of time-frequency analysis to art investigation

Quantitative canvas weave analysis has many applications in art investigations of paintings, including dating, forensics, and canvas rollmate identification. Traditionally, canvas analysis is based on X-radiographs. Prior to serving as a painting canvas, a piece of fabric is coated with a priming agent; smoothing its surface makes this layer thicker between and thinner right on top of weave threads. These variations affect the X-ray absorption, making the weave pattern stand out in X-ray images of the finished painting.

To characterize this pattern, it is customary to visually inspect small areas within the X-radiograph and count the number of horizontal and vertical weave threads; averages of these then estimate the overall canvas weave density. The tedium of this process typically limits its practice to just a few sample regions of the canvas. In addition, it does not capture more subtle information beyond weave density, such as thread angles or variations in the weave pattern. Signal processing techniques applied to art investigation are now increasingly used to develop computer-assisted canvas weave analysis tools.