Digital publication examining a rhyming inventory of a Roman art collection of the Baroque period, with facsimile, translation, with notes and essays by scholars.
|Scooped by Robert Bolick|
In 1681, Pietro Mellini wrote a verse inventory of the highlights of the 153 artworks in the family palazzo for his brother Cardinal Savio Mellini. Scholars Murtha Baca and Nuria Rodríguez Ortega have taken the manuscript that now resides at the Getty Research Institute and created a digital-first scholarly publication.
"The working environment that grew out of this project, the Getty Scholars’ Workspace™, ... is currently undergoing additional development, including usability testing, before its general release to the international research community." (http://www.getty.edu/research/mellini/about)
The effort is intended to show "how the use of technology can offer new opportunities for research, communication, and dissemination of primary source materials, and that it demonstrates the results of collaborative research". There is, however, little here that has not already been demonstrated in the Faber/Touchpress treatment of Shakespeare's sonnets or Eliot's "The Waste Land". (http://thewasteland.touchpress.com/)
The Faber/Touchpress works are apps, not browser-based online works. Had they been, though, I would expect links that do not yield "Error 404" or "Page Not Found" messages. Alas, poor Pietro is not so well served.
I expected links behind references in the companion essays to lines in the manuscript to take me to those lines. Alas, poor Pietro is sans such links.
In an online scholarly publication, I expect references to articles in scholarly journals to be hyperlinked via their easily available DOIs (digital object identifiers) to the articles themselves. Take, for example, this item in the bibliography: Leone, Stephanie C. “Cardinal Pamphilj Builds a Palace: Self-Representation and Familial Ambition in Seventeenth-Century Rome.” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63, no. 4 (2004): 440–71. Cut and paste that into CrossRef's "Metadata Search" at http://www.crossref.org/, and you get http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4128014 , which takes you to the article itself in JSTOR. Alas, poor Pietro, again sans links.
But in light of Pietro's concluding four stanzas (as translated by the team):
"Therefore, my Lord, look with friendly, joyful eyes upon
The works described here in these humble verses
And make them worthy of Your consideration.
They shall become even more beautiful and charming
If you should deign to grant your approval
And praise these abject, lowly objects.
For surely when Heaven deigns
To hear our prayers, and returns you
To these lofty cloisters on the banks of the Tiber
Let your gaze linger with pleasure
As you look upon the walls that surround our Ancestral home,
Offering you stories, and fabulous exploits
On canvas, which put to shame the painters of ancient times."
I should not conclude in a hypercritical vein. The "List of Artworks" (http://www.getty.edu/research/mellini/works/list) provides a taste of of "the works described here in" with useful research notes for those positively identified, possibly identified, related or representative. And as I am finishing Andrew Graham-Dixon's biography of Caravaggio, this discovery of the Mellini family, their claim to three of his works and their coverage by Caravaggio's earliest biographers Mancini and Bellori is a welcome serendipitous crossover between the world of print and the digital.