A Machine Learning Paradigm for Studying Pictorial Realism: How Accurate are Constable's Clouds?

The British landscape painter John Constable is considered foundational for the Realist movement in 19 th -century European painting. Constable's painted skies, in particular, were seen as remarkably accurate by his contemporaries, an impression shared by many viewers today. Yet, assessing the accuracy of realist paintings like Constable's is subjective or intuitive, even for professional art historians, making it difficult to say with certainty what set Constable's skies apart from those of his contemporaries. Our goal is to contribute to a more objective understanding of Constable's realism. We propose a new machine-learning-based paradigm for studying pictorial realism in an explainable way. Our framework assesses realism by measuring the similarity between clouds painted by artists noted for their skies, like Constable, and photographs of clouds. The experimental results of cloud classification show that Constable approximates more consistently than his contemporaries the formal features of actual clouds in his paintings. The study, as a novel interdisciplinary approach that combines computer vision and machine learning, meteorology, and art history, is a springboard for broader and deeper analyses of pictorial realism.

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Work Title A Machine Learning Paradigm for Studying Pictorial Realism: How Accurate are Constable's Clouds?
Open Access
  1. Zhuomin Zhang
  2. Elizabeth C. Mansfield
  3. Jia Li
  4. John Russell
  5. George S. Young
  6. Catherine Adams
  7. Kevin A. Bowley
  8. James Z. Wang
  1. Pictorial realism
  2. John Constable
  3. Cloud classification
  4. Feature fusion
  5. Style disentanglement
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence
Publication Date October 16, 2023
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
  1. https://doi.org/10.1109/TPAMI.2023.3324743
Deposited March 04, 2024




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added zhang_main.pdf
  • Added Creator Zhuomin Zhang
  • Added Creator Elizabeth C. Mansfield
  • Added Creator Jia Li
  • Added Creator John E Russell
  • Added Creator G S Young
  • Added Creator Catherine Adams
  • Added Creator Kevin A. Bowley
  • Added Creator J Z Wang
  • Added Creator James Z. Wang
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword Show Changes
    • Pictorial realism, John Constable, Cloud classification, Feature fusion, Style disentanglement
  • Deleted Creator J Z Wang
  • Renamed Creator John Russell Show Changes
    • John E Russell
    • John Russell
  • Renamed Creator George S. Young Show Changes
    • G S Young
    • George S. Young
  • Updated Creator James Z. Wang
  • Updated