In October 2009 eight major museums in Europe and the United States began working together with the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf and the Fachhochschule Cologne on a research project to provide access in the electronic environment to the paintings of an important protagonist of the German Renaissance: Lucas Cranach the Elder. The project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of a larger initiative to develop new kinds of research tools to facilitate transmission of art historical and conservation information across institutions and international borders in order to advance scholarship and learning. The comprehensive stock of image and text provides the public with a deeper insight into the work of Lucas Cranach and will assist researchers in the future to answer questions regarding attribution and workshop organisation among other things.
The Cranach Research Project is now in its third phase (2015 – 2018). The object of this phase is to consolidate and expand the existing network, to enhance the infrastructure and increase the content, and in so doing lay the foundations for an innovative, comprehensive and collaborative source of knowledge on Lucas Cranach and his workshop, which is significantly different from the traditional model of the monographic catalogue.
One of the greatest and most versatile artists of sixteenth-century Europe, Lucas Cranach the Elder served as court painter to three successive Saxon electors for almost five decades, demonstrating extraordinary artistic creativity. He invented numerous pictorial narratives and iconographies to reflect the new age of Humanism and Protestant theology, and established one of the most efficient and productive workshops of his time. Today more than 1,500 paintings by Cranach and his workshop are known, and they represent only a small fraction of the works originally produced.
Despite the best efforts of several generations of scholars to gain a deeper understanding of his art and to catalogue his widely dispersed oeuvre of paintings, drawings and prints, Cranach still poses a considerable number of questions and challenges for future art historical research:
From October 2009 until September 2011 the Cranach Digital Archive aimed to establish methodologies for sharing documentation between institutions and across international borders, and to create new research tools to facilitate online study. The Cranach pilot project has built on lessons learnt from other Mellon pilot projects and tested and expanded the methodologies of these models in significant ways.
In the Pilot Phase nine founding partners and another ten associate partner institutions cooperated in the organisation of the Cranach Digital Archive:
Founding Partners: Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Alte Pinakothek and Doerner Institut, Munich; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna; Kunstmuseum Basel; Metropolitan Museum, New York; National Gallery, London; Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin; Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden; Prof. Dr. Dieter Koepplin, Basel; Dr. Werner Schade, Berlin; Prof. Dr. Ingo Sandner, Dresden
Partners: Anhaltische Gemälde-Galerie, Dessau; Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg; Klassik Stiftung, Weimar; Kunstsammlungen der Veste Coburg, Coburg; Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels; Museum der bildenden Künste, Leipzig; Stiftung Preußischer Schlösser und Gärten, Berlin-Brandenburg; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha; Szépmüvészeti Múzeum, Budapest
In addition collaboration with a further 23 project contributors was initiated.
A data model and standards for data registration and exchange were being developed:
The goal of the second project phase was to expand the existing network, to develop the shared infrastructure and to considerably increase the content of the archive in order to achieve an innovative research tool and a comprehensive research resource on Lucas Cranach. Furthermore the project sought to promote collaborative research between museums and developed a unique international and sustainable research network.
The second phase addressed two primary goals:
Since 2012 the cda team has established collaboration and exchange with a further 140 institutions (museums, research institutions and church communities). In total the cda presented documentation and research results from more than 183 institutions in 24 countries that were generated by hundreds of scholars and are continuously being expanded.
Development and improvement of workflow procedures and of the various thesauri based filter and search functionalities (in German and English), image comparison, a search history, a personal gallery and many more functionalities such as for example visualization of relationships between objects with thumbnail images
The cda provides free online-access to art historical, technical and conservation information on 1,300 paintings including:
The project team examined more than 930 paintings in 85 collections and documented these works amongst others with digital photography, digital microscopy and infrared reflectography (not yet all online)
Reports were generated with descriptions and interpretations of several hundred infrared reflectograms
Currently the cda provides free online-access to 345 scans of archival documents together with new transcriptions by Monika and Dieter Lücke. They give insight into the production parameters and workshop practice among other things.
The following archives were digitized in the second project phase:
The bibliographical data base presently lists 2,950 Cranach related publications
Towards a comprehensive, networked and self-sustainable research resource
The 3-year project aims to achieve three primary goals:
To achieve these three primary goals, we will take the following five steps:
Dr. Maryan Ainsworth, New York
Dr. Bodo Brinkmann, Basel
Dr. Susan Foister, London
Prof. Dr. Dieter Koepplin, Basel
Dr. Werner Schade, Berlin
Dr. Karl Schütz, Vienna
Dr. Regine Stein, Marburg
Prof. Dr. Thomas Dreier
Institut für Informationsrecht, Zentrum für angewandte Rechtswissenschaft (ZAR),
Universität Karlsruhe / Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Prof. Dr. Gunnar Heydenreich (Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast, CICS)
Helen Smith, Mellon Fellow (Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast)
Jörg Stahlmann (Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast)
Jana Herrschaft (Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences, University of Applied Sciences)
Daniel Görres (Stiftung Museum Kunstpalast)
In cooperation with
Prof. Dr. Ingo Sandner, Dresden
Dr. Monika Lücke
Christine Unsinn (Freie Universität, Berlin)
Linda Schmidt, Sonja Ruß, Svenja Dickmann, Nicole Reds (Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences, University of Applied Sciences)
Désirée Monsees (Universität Kassel)
Laura Thiepold (Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf)
Prof. Dr. Martina Sitt (Universität Kassel)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Pöpper (Westsächsische Hochschule Zwickau)
and many more.
'Routes to Cranach' is a collaborative project, involving the places which have particular significance for the life and work of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Cranach, the family of painters. The aim is both to recognize and preserve Cranach's artistic legacy as well as to showcase his dynasty to a wider public. There are currently twelve partners participating in the project: Coburg, Dessau-Roßlau, Eisenach, Erfurt, Gotha, Kronach, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Meissen, Neustadt/Orla, Nürnberg, Schneeberg und Weimar. A scientific advisory board comprised of art historians and Cranach experts will supervise the work.
d:kult is the joint initiative of museums and cultural institutions of the city of Düsseldorf to manage and to provide access to their collections with estimated 3.5 million objects. The CDA collaborates with d:kult and uses the collection management system as the initial data repository.
ResearchSpace is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project aimed at supporting collaborative Internet research, information sharing and publication for the cultural heritage scholarly community. The ResearchSpace environment intends to provide the following integrated elements: Data and digital analysis tools, Collaboration tools, Semantic RDF data sources, Data and digital management tools, Internet design and authoring tools, Web Publication.
Since 2007, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has been funding a series of pilot projects in digital recording and transmission of art historical and conservation documentation. The National Gallery's Mellon Digital Documentation Project centres on the Gallery's remarkable and diverse group of 10 paintings by Raphael. Collaboration with other institutions allowed other works by Raphael to be included, bringing together art-historical, technical and conservation-based information and creating a platform, which could eventually host Raphael's complete Oeuvre in unprecedented depth.
The Rembrandt Database is a collaborative pilot project of the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) and the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in The Hague. The project is funded by the Museums and Art Conservation program of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of a larger initiative to create digital assets that foster international collaboration between institutions.
The goal of The Rembrandt Database is to create a multi-lingual online research resource capable of integrating conservation, technical and art historical documentation on paintings by or (formerly) attributed to Rembrandt from different museums and international institutions. The database builds upon the extensive network of existing RKD databases, and will be accessible via the website www.rembrandtdatabase.org (.com/.net/.eu/.nl). http://english.rkd.nl/Projecten/the-rembrandt-database-mellon-project
Cranach Magnified is a pilot project of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Cranach Magnified allows you to investigate the refined painting technique of Lucas Cranach the Elder and his workshop by comparing zoomable macroscopic details from different paintings side by side. The project focuses on paintings executed between 1525 and 1530, and the sinuous, almost calligraphic brushwork, textured foliage, and surprisingly minute features characteristic of Cranach's style in the late 1520s.