In the fine arts, impressions found on terracotta sculptures in museum collections are scarcely reported and not in a systematic manner. Here, we present a procedure for scanning fingermarks and toolmarks found on the visible surface and inner walls of a terracotta sculpture using 3D micro-computed tomography, as well as methods for quantitatively characterizing these impressions. We apply our pipeline on the terracotta sculpture Study for a Hovering Putto, attributed to Laurent Delvaux and housed in the Rijksmuseum collection. On the basis of combined archaeology and forensics research that assigns age groups to makers of European ancestry from ridge breadth values, we estimate that the fingermarks belong to an adult male. Given that each fingerprint is unique and the carving tools were exclusively made in the artist's workshop, we give incentive to aim for artist profiling using innovative computational approaches on preserved impressions from terracotta sculptures.
Science Advances
CT for Art: from Images to Patterns , Real-Time 3D Tomography
Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam (CWI), The Netherlands

Sero, D, Garachon, I, Hermens, E, & Batenburg, K.J. (2023). Artist profiling using micro-CT scanning of a Rijksmuseum terracotta sculpture. Science Advances, 9(38), eadg6073:1–eadg6073:13. doi:10.1126/sciadv.adg6073