Has Google confused me with Van Gogh?

Portrait of Mother Teresa featuring abstractionHaving recently painted a portrait of Mother Teresa, I turned to Google's search by image  to see what it thought my artwork was most similar to.
It's not that widely known, but Google can search using your image to find similar ones. It uses AI to match image features like colors, points, lines and textures against billions of images. 

So how did it do? Firstly, it classified the topic as "fine arts", an encouraging start. But I was amazed, and more than a little flattered, by the outcome.

Almost all of the matches were from the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions of leading North American and European museums of fine art.

18 of the 32 most similar images found by Google were portraits by Van Gogh and most of them were self portraits. There was also a self portrait and The Scream by Edvard Munch. Well, that's not bad company to be grouped with!

Some of the other artists found matched include Tove Jansson (Didrichsen Art Museum), Gabriele Münter (known for her colorful expressionist landscapes and graphic portraits, as well as for her relationship with Wassily Kandinsky), and Gösta Sandels.

Here is the actual outcome of the search:

Artworks judged similar to my Mother Teresa portrait by Google image search

 When you see this in Google, you can click through on each of the 32 results to access the details of the painter and the institution exhibiting it.

Using Google to search for similar images

Google image search is really easy to use. Just visit Google and select the images tab and then press the camera icon to upload or link to the image you want to search on.

And if you do, how repeatable will the results be? I decided to put it to the test.

The machine learning that powers Google's AI has many complex decisions to make very quickly. Given the almost instantaneous results, I'm guessing that Google is shuffling its store of images and stopping the search when it's found 32 matches. 

So I thought I'd try the same search using my Mother Teresa painting twice more. Was it just a fluke that so many of the results were  Van Goghs?

Here's the second search result:

A second Google image search of my portrait of Mother Teresa

Still 10 Van Goghs this time. Here's the result of the third search: 

 A third search for artworks similar to my Mother Teresa portrait using Google image search

Wow, this is interesting. As well as several by Van Gogh, it's now added 3 works by Picasso and a  Gauguin. In every one of the searches Van Gogh continues to be represented multiple times.

Well, thank you Google! You can find my portrait of Mother Teresa in the abstract portraits collection. 



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