Brueghel team Christmas party group picture

2015 has been a busy year for DH Fellow Elizabeth Honig, Associate Professor in History of Art, and her team of research assistants and URAP apprentices. Over several years, the team has developed, an extensive, open source catalogue raisonné of Flemish painter, Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601 - 1678 AD). The enormous output of the Brueghel family’s workshop and their use of various templating technologies for duplicating painting elements (e.g. a windmill, background figures) poses interesting challenges for attribution. In December, the Brueghel team gathered to celebrate the launch of a newly revamped A site redesign, content management system migration, and other new features offer users a more robust platform for accessing, analyzing, and gathering data from the Brueghel catalogue.

Under the hood of a database

The new reflects the migration of data from Mediawiki to Drupal, an open source content management system. Though both platforms allow users to quickly create pages of content, Drupal’s customizable data model vastly increases  the ease with which the research team can maintain structured data; browse the data temporally, thematically, and geospatially; and export the data for reuse with other analysis tools. Read an extended discussion about choosing project platforms here.Map of institutions holding Brueghel works’s new database structure makes it easy to browse paintings by a variety of facets. Controlled vocabularies for genre, associated artists, and other descriptive categories make it easy to view related works. Provenance data can now be explored via maps. Users can explore the dispersion of Brueghel’s works around the globe, as well as examine the provenance of individual works.

Maintaining the portability and reusability of the data is a top concern for Honig, who collaborates with machine learning researchers at Duke University. For this research, quickly creating large sets of related images for testing image analysis tools is key. Learn more about Honig’s collaboration with Dr. Eric E. Monson (“Math and Art History find common ground in dictionary learning”). serves as the first test case for the Open Catalogue Raisonné Platform (OCRP). Art historians, students, artists, and information professionals working in libraries, archives, and museums, will be able to easily spin up their own catalogues using Drupal. The OCRP will include some helpful modules and a standard, but customizable metadata template. Over the course of the year, the Brueghel team and collaborators at the Visual Resources Center gathered interview and survey data from dozens of potential users to inform their design process and assess how OCRP could fill gaps in currently available platforms.

Moving forward, Honig plans to expand the scope of the catalogue to include data from Pieter the Elder and other members of the Brueghel family. In 2016, users will be able to create and export their own bibliographies and image libraries.