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I'm collecting late medieval and early renaissance artwork for a personal online project.

In doing that, I've accumulated a number of early-internet black and white images which I know originally come from full-color paintings -- because I've seen some of those paintings in the past.

Neither Google Images nor Tineye seem to be able to find color versions of b&w images, nor are text-based searches including the artist's name or work's name (in those few cases I know either) working.

I'd really appreciate any suggestions as to how to use the b&w versions I have to find the color originals!


An example? Here's one. I've seen this online in the form of a subtly-textured but wildly colorful painting dozens of times in the past, but can't use this sketch version to find that again. Same with the others.

The sketch itself is attributed to Heinrich Aldegrever, and titled 'Bildnis eines Jungen Mannes':

enter image description here

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A library perhaps? You know, with those old-fashioned things called books. –  Scott Oct 16 '12 at 1:20
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Could you post an example of such an image? –  Ken Oct 16 '12 at 8:48
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@Scott he says in most cases he doesn't have the artist or the artwork's name, so research in a library would involve every page of every book about the relevant era... and would still rely on an author having picked out that exact painting for inclusion. Google-image-searching "art 1500s" or whatever limited info he has then scrolling down endlessly would probably be more efficient. That said, libraries, galleries and museums might not be bad places to find people who might just recognise the images... –  user568458 Oct 16 '12 at 10:51
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The sample appears to be an engraving, which would typically have been printed in one color. –  DA01 Oct 16 '12 at 21:18
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Maybe a silly question, but since not everyone knows about this feature: Have you tried dragging the images in the 'search on image' box in Google Images? I don't mean the 'search for similar images' but really let google look for (almost) exact duplicates. Hope this helps any... –  poepje Oct 17 '12 at 20:48
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3 Answers

I would go with a librarian like Scott suggested or even go to a local museum and speak with a curator. Preferably a museum that has some medieval artwork in it. If these aren't options you might also consider if any university near you has either a Master of Art History program or Master of Medieval / European studies and speak with a professor.

Another option is to use Google Museum and Museum Websites - not sure what pieces you're looking for but a lot are now online:

Google Art: http://www.googleartproject.com/

The Met - European Paintings: http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections?deptids=11&pg=1

The Met - Medieval Art: http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the-collections?deptids=17&pg=1

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Or maybe someone at NYPL would know? At least about your example. –  Olle Sjögren Oct 17 '12 at 7:37
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You can try to rougly colour it in yourself if you remember the colors and try it on Google Images or TinEye.

Alternatively, and probably your best bet, is to go to you nearest university/library and ask around for someone that is well versed in historic paintings. People still outperform computers in pattern recognition.

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Success with the first image! Asked on some art sites, and people were very friendly but unable to help, so thought about it.

Hat looks Dutch or Flemish. Tightly-striped pants look northern European. Haircut looks Reformation-era. So, I started looking for printmakers and monogrammists from that time and era. And…

enter image description here

And what is it? It is: Monogrammist AG, Portrait of a Young Man before a Wide Landscape, circa 1500.

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