A New Norm for Studying Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Online

Josh Yiu, Hong Kong

Published paper: A New Norm for Studying Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Online

This paper presents a forthcoming online catalogue of Chinese painting and calligraphy in the collection of the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). This online scholarly catalogue is the result of five years of planning, research, and experimentation under the auspice of the J. Paul Getty Foundation. This proposal summarizes the processes by which SAM selected a modest and largely unpublished collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy, and thought through the needs and functionalities of the catalogue. This catalogue will present an innovative way for studying and presenting classical Chinese painting and calligraphy.

During the course of the project, SAM's collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy grew substantially, adding significant works of the Ming and Qing dynasties as well as from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Their importance led to the conclusion that the new acquisitions should be constantly added in the catalogue. Therefore, the active acquisition program led to a fundamental change in our expectation of the function of the online ‘catalogue,’ namely that it should be a portal of new scholarship and new acquisitions.

This online catalogue features thoughtful and provocative essays about major works by renowned professors and curators in the United States and Asia, with high-resolution, zoom-able images of the works of art, and thorough documentation—including transcriptions and translations of inscriptions and colophons, and seals that are transcribed, identified, and located. Readers are encouraged to post comments about the works of art and the accompanying essays, as well as to formulate answers to questions that we put forward under the section “Questions for Thought.”

By the time of the conference, the catalogue will have had a three-month trial period, and we will be able to report on its reception by the scholarly community. We expect to address issues of maintenance and sustainability of the online catalogue with colleagues.

1 thought on “A New Norm for Studying Chinese Painting and Calligraphy Online

  1. As a IT staff in the Palace Museum, we also built a catalogue website (http://shimage.dpm.org.cn/bz.html) which is published in around 2009 and is a collection of our chinese painting and calligraphy. On this website, one can view the HD images of our collections as long as zoom in, zoom out and make some basic actions. Besides that, we also provide the function of making comments on certain spots on the images (I believe this is pretty similar with what your website is doing). This commenting funcion we only provide to the appointed users and we are inviting them to build the ‘knowledge database’ for our collections. If you are interested of what kind of comments we have, you can visit the old version of our website (http://shimage.dpm.org.cn/ggresearchnet/index.jsp). (This old website can only be used under IE explorer.
    It is amazing that we are trying to accomplish the similar thing! Hope we can further talk about this in the future.:)

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