CAA News Today
Mapping Titian: A New Digital Resource in Art History
posted by Christopher Howard — May 15, 2014
Mapping Titian is a new digital resource that allows users to visualize one of the most fundamental concerns of the discipline of art history: the relationship between an artwork and its changing historical context. Focusing on the paintings executed by the Venetian Renaissance artist Titian (ca. 1488–1576), this site offers a searchable provenance index of his attributed pictures and allows users to create customizable collections of paintings and customizable maps that show the movement of the pictures over time and space. Mapping Titian has been generously funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation through a digital art-history grant to Boston University.
Mapping Titian contains the most up-to-date information available from print publications and from museum websites for the provenance of the paintings. The sources for each work’s provenance are cited each time the picture changes ownership and/or location. A references page includes a complete bibliographic entry for these sources. Users are encouraged to share new information or to offer corrections to the current database. As of now, the site has only paintings attributed to Titian and, because of attribution questions, does not yet include drawings by the artist. Information is still being entered and refined, and the site should be fully developed by September 2014.
Titian’s paintings have proven to be an especially rich microcosm of possible directions for the future project, Mapping Artworks, of which this current site would be one part. The application would provide a template for other scholars and educators to map other groups of objects, whether by artist, medium, or another criterion. Future phases of this project will include additional ways beyond geographic maps to visualize these “lives,” including nongeographic networks and three-dimensional virtual reconstructions of important collecting spaces in history.
CAA members who are interested in joining the advisory board for Mapping Titian and/or have any questions can contact Jodi Cranston, professor of Renaissance art at Boston University.
Titian, Madonna of the Pesaro Family, 1519–26, oil on canvas, 16 x 9 ft. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Venice (artwork in the public domain)