The author applies David Galenson's work on the life cycles of modern artists to the study of the paintings of old masters, from about the early fifteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. Both the potential use of technical examination of paintings and the role of drawings for preconceiving compositions are explored as means for interpreting artistic behavior among premodern artists. Using a study of illustrations in texts to establish a list of canonical painters and the relative dates in which they are believed to have contributed their most important paintings, the author then analyzes a series of old master painters' working methods, demonstrating how their creative behavior corresponds to what their respective life cycles would suggest. Thus, the study of artists' life cycles could anticipate the use of optical and other mechanical devices for the production of premodem paintings based on such studies.

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2004

Notes/Citation Information

Published in Historical Methods, v. 37, no. 3, p. 137-153.

Copyright of Historical Methods is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd.

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Historical Methods on Summer 2004, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.3200/HMTS.37.4.137-154

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)