Dendrochronological analyses of Netherlandish panel paintings in Lombard museums
Dendrochronology is a method for dating wooden objects, such as archaeological and architectural artifacts, as well as panel paintings, sculptures, and musical instruments. For panel paintings, the principal goal is to obtain a terminus post quem for the creation of a painting, by determining the felling date of the tree that provided the wood for the panel. But this method cannot be used for all trees. At present, oak, beech, fir, pine and spruce can be dated, while linden and poplar cannot. Therefore, most Italian Renaissance paintings cannot be analyzed because their supports are made of poplar. Dendrochronology has proven to be particularly valuable for dating Netherlandish paintings, especially those from the fifteenth- seventeenth centuries, since, almost without exception, artists in the lowlands used oak for their wooden supports. In the fiftheenth- sixteenth centuries, the oak was imported from the Baltic region, but by the end of the sixteenth century and during the seventeenth century, wood from western Germany and the Netherlands was used.