en français

Dendrochronology was used to date the supporting wood panel of the portrait of a man, in the manner of Tintoretto. It can also be used to date a wide range of other wooden objects such as musical instruments or support beams in buildings. Some wood species, such as poplar, cannot be dated with dendrochronology, but oak, spruce, beech, and fir are types of wood that can all be analyzed using this technology. Early Netherlandish paintings are often examined with dendrochronology because the artists who created these works commonly chose Baltic oak for their supports. Dendrochronologists measure the width of the annual growth rings that are found on the end grain of each board. The width of these growth rings will vary depending on local environmental conditions, producing a particular pattern that can be compared with a master chronology for the corresponding area.

Dendrochronology yields the earliest possible felling date for the tree from which the lumber was produced. After establishing the date of the youngest growth ring, two other factors must be considered before it is possible to propose the post quem, the year after which the panel must have been painted: the first factor is the potential presence of softer sapwood rings, which were typically not used by the panel makers; the second is the period of time required for seasoning the wood. Painters could recycle existing support panels or use boards of wood that had been felled at a much earlier date. This is another reason why dendrochronology can only provide the earliest possible year of production and not the actual production date.