Applied Physics A

, 122:970 | Cite as

A combined approach for the attribution of handwriting: the case of Antonio Stradivari’s manuscripts

  • Giusj Valentina FicheraEmail author
  • Piercarlo Dondi
  • Maurizio Licchelli
  • Luca Lombardi
  • Stefano Ridolfi
  • Marco Malagodi
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Innovation in Art Research and Technology


Numerous artefacts from Antonio Stradivari’s workshop are currently preserved in the “Museo del Violino” (Museum of the Violin) in Cremona, Italy. A large number of them are paper models containing instructions and technical notes by the great violin maker. After his death, this collection has had several owners, while new annotations added to the original ones, sometimes imitating Stradivari’s handwriting, caused problems of authenticity. The attribution of these relics is a complex task and, until now, only a small part of them has been examined by palaeographers. This paper introduces a multi-analytical approach able to facilitate the study of handwriting in manuscripts with the combined use of image processing and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy: the former provides a fast and automatic screening of documents; the latter allows to analyse the chemical composition of inks. For our tests, 17 paper relics, dated between 1684 and 1729, were chosen. Palaeographic analysis was used as reference. The results obtained showed the validity of the combined approach proposed herein: the two techniques proved to be complementary and useful to clarify the attribution of different pieces of handwriting.


Paper Relic Handwriting Recognition Silicon Drift Detector Light Brown Colour Writer Identification 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to gratefully acknowledge Fausto Cacciatori and Marco D’Agostino for their valuable advice on Stradivari’s handwriting. We would also like to thank Fondazione Cariplo [Research Project “Opificio del Suono”] and Fondazione Arvedi Buschini of Cremona for funding the research activities.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arvedi Laboratory of Non-Invasive DiagnosticsUniversity of PaviaCremonaItaly
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Electrical, Computer and Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  4. 4.Ars MensuraeRomeItaly
  5. 5.Department of Musicology and Cultural HeritageUniversity of PaviaCremonaItaly

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