CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The catalogue raisonné as Wiki

Elizabeth Honig and Louisa Wood Ruby

Researchers increasingly expect to find information online, and the publication of scholarly books is expensive. What is the future of the catalogue raisonné, a form of publication always destined to be superceded by the next catalogue? We suggest a new online model for this type of information. A monographic Wikipedia with a page for each object attributed to its subject will allow for constant updating as knowledge about the artist changes. It will be multiply authored: anybody who knows about a work by the artist can contribute and add information. Researchers can search data, but also resize and overlay images to investigate attribution and studio processes. Curators can play a major role in developing knowledge about artists represented in their collections by contributing to such a project. Instead of sharing collection materials with scholars preparing a catalogue, each curator can have a voice in the Wiki.

At our market table we will present “” We will show how each image-page is constructed, where “discussions” take place, and how indexing works. We will also demonstrate the image-manipulation capabilities our programmer is developing for the Wiki.

Issues to be discussed are:

– What would make the Wiki more useful and interesting to curators?
– What will be the copyright issues on images used in a nonprofit online research site?
– If you have paintings by Jan Brueghel (or his studio/circle) in your collection, will you become a contributor to our site? How can we make that easier for you?

Jan Brueghel (1568-1625), Christ in Limbo, ca. 1595, Galleria Colonna, Rome

About Elizabeth Honig and Louisa Wood Ruby

Elizabeth Honig (Ph.D. Yale 1992) is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Berkeley. She has previously taught at Tufts, Radcliffe, and Leiden, and was guest curator at the Amsterdam Museum. She is the author of Painting and the market in early modern Antwerp and of articles on Dutch, Flemish, British and Italian art. In the course of researching her forthcoming book Jan Brueghel and the scale of ambition, she compiled a 550-item database of the artist’s paintings that serves as the starting-point for She has received grants from the Townsend Center at Berkeley, and from CITRIS (Center for Information Technology), for the creation of this Wiki.

Louisa Wood Ruby (Ph.D. Institute of Fine Arts 1997) has been Head of Photoarchive Research at The Frick Collection and Art Reference Library in New York since 2006, directing research on works represented by the photoarchive’s 1.1 million images. She has lectured and published frequently on Dutch and Flemish art, including a 1999 monograph and catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Paul Bril. Currently she is working on the drawings of Jan Brueghel, writing a traditional catalogue raisonné in conjunction with Terez Gerszi of the Szépművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts), Budapest, and serving as drawings consultant for the Jan Brueghel Wiki.

Louisa Wood Ruby has been a member of CODART since 2001