Collection of Prints and Drawings

 

About the Digital Catalogue

The present catalogue of Italian and French Renaissance prints, containing 4.718 objects, is the first complete publication of a section from the rich collection of 100.000 prints preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. The only attempt to record the Museum’s prints was made by Gábor Térey in 1910, who published a simple index  listing the number of prints in the collection under the name of the printmaker (Verzeichniss der Kupferstich-Sammlung alter und moderner Meister und der Handzeichnungen moderner Künstler). Térey’s pioneer work, although still invaluable, is very much out-dated today. In our time, when new on-line resources appear on the internet by the day, it is obviously an urgent obligation of curators to provide access to the collection’s holdings by compiling digital catalogues.

In 2009 we began creating records by entering basic data of each object in a self-developed database, specifically designed for cataloguing prints and drawings. Direct curatorial involvement in cataloguing brought the advantage of creating accurate records without the phase of supervising. Parallel to entering data, we performed continuous editing and adjusted information with bibliographical references and current scholarship. Because no registers for the individual prints exist, we worked systematically through the boxes, getting information from the objects themselves.

At an early phase of our work we realized that by developing records in more detail, the database could be improved into an on-line catalogue. In addition to the standard description of the objects, we included the states of the impressions, listed and annotated the most relevant references, and added curatorial comments summarizing the prints’ relations to other artworks, their different attributions; but we omitted their iconographic interpretations.

Needless to say, as opposed to printed catalogues an on-line publication holds much promise for making information more current and widely available. Their content may be revised and updated regularly, use and search is much more efficient, and high-resolution images allow close examination of the details. Currently, most images in our catalogue are zoomable, and we continuously change those that are now only available in smaller size.

The catalogue is updated continuously, and although data is still being revised and comments still to be completed, we believe our work has reached a phase to be worth publishing. In the comments, we try to shortly summarize recent information on the individual prints, and the length and depth of our texts depend on currently existing literature. Regarding that the collection preserves a significant number of Italian and French prints produced between 1450 and 1620, we hope that our catalogue may become a useful reference for scholars, students as well as for the widest possible audience.

Our cataloguing work was inspired by the British Museum’s Collection Database, which also provided invaluable help with the identification of many of our objects. Thanks of the authors are due to Eszter Nagy and Zsófia Vargyas for their help with the preparation of the images. The development of the website was supported by the National Cultural Fund of Hungary.

 

 

 

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