Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Online research of early Celtic art in Britain -- part 6

Enamelled bronze harness mount from
Early 1st cent
Menil collection, 
Houston, Texas
Image courtesy of Prof. Dorothy Verkerk,
An excellent resource for early Celtic art has been on the web for fifteen years. It is Celtic Art & Cultures from the University of North Carolina and was created for use in the Art History course Celtic Art and Cultures (Art 111) at UNC in the Fall semester, 1998, and continues to be used by students. It has many articles and an excellent collection of images. More recent research has adjusted some of the dates given on the site, so always check for such revisions. Although no image use policy is posted. I got permission from Prof. Dorothy Verkerk to use her images on my blog.

Of course, fifteen years ago the average internet connection was not what it is now and the images were a bit small as a result. The one on the right is actual size. Resizing images larger usually results in a terrible loss of quality, but a trick to avoid a lot of image degradation is to resample the image by 110% and then repeat the action until you have a image of satisfactory size and quality. Depending on the original image quality, this can often be done up to about ten times.

If all you need are images without much commentary, then Wikimedia Commons and photo sharing sites such as Flickr are excellent places to find them. Unfortunately, some rather famous pieces of British early Celtic art are not available anywhere on the web. The harness mount from Sudeley in the Cheltenham Museum is such an object. I would have loved to have given a comparison of its design with the one illustrated here as the Hanbledon mount shows very strong influences from the Sudeley mount. Perhaps one day I will make a movie morphing the the two images together and post it here. As I will need to colorize the published images of the Sudeley mount and the images together would be similar to a collage, then copyright should not be a problem (hopefully!)

Art students and copyists at the Louvre, Paris
wood engraving, Winslow Homer, 1868
Museums and their web sites vary in their usefulness. Most are treated as a source of entertainment rather than an open source to encourage research. The British Museum's web site is an exception. Like the entertainment industry in general, permissions to reuse material can be excessively expensive and we have to wonder how "public" these collections really are. Many museums allow visitors to take their own photographs and this was the source of most of the images on the Celtic Art & Cultures site, as well as on other image sharing sites, but some museums do not even allow that. I heard that the Museum of London does not even permit visitors to sketch the exhibits!

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