The Perfect Spring Fling: A visual stroll through the Ukiyo-e Japanese Woodblock Archive

In celebration of Spring and the lovely cherry blossom trees that seem to be blooming all over town, it seems like the perfect time to share this lush archive of Japanese woodblock prints from the digital archive, Ukiyo-e.

The archive spans three centuries of traditional and contemporary Japanese woodblock prints, organized by time period, artist, and institution. The database is easy to navigate due to large thumbnail images of each print.

By Asano Takeji, 1940

Dorokyo Gorge, by Asano Takeji (1940)

The Ukiyo-e archive maintains a database of over 213,000 prints from 24 different institutions. In addition to this, the site also features an image similarity analysis engine which compares prints of similar content and style. This engine recommends similar or different versions of a print that you might also be interested in. When looking through the archive, if an image has any corresponding similar prints, they show up as recommendations (see screen shot below):

In this window, you can see that the site features a very simple design that clearly labels the artist, date, and collection, and also gives you a selection of similar images. By hitting the "Compare Prints" button, on the lower right hand side of the screen, a specialty image viewer pops up that allows you do a side-by-side comparison of two images.

In this window, you can see that the site features a very simple design that clearly labels the artist, date, and collection, and also gives you a selection of similar images. By hitting the “Compare Prints” button, on the lower right hand side of the screen, a specialty image viewer pops up that allows you do a side-by-side comparison of two images.

The database highlights their depths of metadata, which has been aggregated from various museums, libraries, auction houses, and dealers. Furthermore, the database is searchable by both text and image, making searching for a specific print comparison incredibly easy! Finally, the entire database is available in both Japanese and English, an important detail that contributes to bridging a gap in the scholarship of Japanese Woodblock prints.

When performing a general search, the database is divided chronologically, making categorical separations roughly ever 30 years between Early Ukiyo-e (Early-Mid 1700s), and  Modern and Contemporary prints (1950s to Now). This separation clearly shows the difference and shift in style, subject matter, and technological possibilities. If you can’t be outside in nature this week, take some time to explore these vibrant Japanese woodblock prints!

Mallet of Daikoku, One of the Gods of Good Fortune, and a Rat, 1828 by Yashima Gakutei

Mallet of Daikoku, One of the Gods of Good Fortune, and a Rat, 1828 by Yashima Gakutei

 

 

 

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Delt.ae: Your One Stop for Image Quality Assessment

When you upload to Instagram, do you always try to make sure your images are perfect? Is your crowning acheivement when you can prouldy post a photo with #nofilter? Before desparately taking multiple images, seeking out that perfect white balance, try Delt.ae!

Delt.ae is a free, professional grade, image quality assessment service. To use Delt.ae, simply register for an account, and begin uploading photos. Upon registering, in your ‘scans’ tab, a sample image is provided that will help you to understand the types of image assessments that Delt.ae runs.

So what does Deltae mean? According to the Delt.ae Wiki, “By definition, Delta-E (ΔE) is the scientific metric that describes the distance between two colors. The capital “E” stands for Empfindung, the German word for sensation. With the Greek character Delta (Δ), the difference is denoted. So a ΔE describes how your senses relate two colors.”

Essentially, Delt.ae compares your digital image to how the subject looks in reality based on the use of test-targets. These image test targets can not only assess image quality, but also determine such factors as lighting uniformity, geometry, resolution, and sharpness.  For a comprehensive list of the targets Delt.ae currently supports, click here.

Two image targets above the scan of a book.

Do note, however, that for Delt.ae to test your image, a target to scan does need to be physically present in the actual image (you can crop it out later). For a list of target specifications, checkout their guidelines on how to use and place targets within images, here.

UIUC Library Gains Temporary Access to new ProQuest Databases (thru May 31)

Through May 31st, UIUC has access to three new ProQuest Databases: Queen Victoria’s Journals, The Women’s Wear Daily Archive, and Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War. These three databases are only available for a limited time, so take some time to explore each one!

Below is a brief overview of each database.

Queen Victoria’s Journals

The online database of Queen Victoria’s Journals (digitized from the Royal Archives) span a long range of her life: beginning during her time as a child, through her Accession to the Throne, her marriage to Prince Albert, and her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. Thirteen of the volumes preserved are written in Queen Victoria’s own hand, with the remaining having been transcribed by her daughter, Princess Beatrice.

Queen Victoria's Journal entry: Friday, March 17 1882 Partial transcription:

Queen Victoria’s Journal entry: Friday, March 17 1882 Partial transcription: “We breakfasted in my little sitting room, which is smaller than the one I have at the Villa Hohenlohe. The rooms are nicely, but simply…”

Queen Victoria reigned as Queen from 1837 to 1901, making her the longest serving British monarch.

This online database is remarkable, as previously Queen Victoria’s journals have never been published in their entirety. Rather, only scholars working at the Royal Archives could use these materials, and so only a small amount of this material has ever been made available to the public. The scans provided are high-resolution, allowing users to zoom-in, making reading her cursive handwriting a much easier task. All journal entries are also available as downloadable PDFs.

Queen Victoria in Bal Costumé outfit as Queen Philippa: pen and ink sketch with watercolour, by Queen Victoria (15.6 x 11.4 cm (sheet))

Queen Victoria in Bal Costumé outfit as Queen Philippa: pen and ink sketch with watercolour, by Queen Victoria (15.6 x 11.4 cm (sheet))

Events of interest include her Coronation, Marriage, and Diamond Jubillee. The archive features not only this plethora of primary source material, but also features essays by scholars and curators from varying disciplines including Art History, English, and History. Topics range from Queen Victoria’s Coronation to her connection with Scotland. Her materials overall may be valuable to those working in many disciplines including gender studies, autobiographical writing, and 19th century British scholars, and of course anyone working at the intersections of these studies.

The database features an interactive, graphic-based timeline that covers not only her personal life, but looks at developments in sports, science, military history, and culture of the time. This is probably one of my favorite features, as it allows users to easily contextualize the journal entries they are working with. It is also an excellent teaching tool.

In addition to copies of written text, the database also features Illustrations and sketches by Queen Victoria.

This project is the outcome of a partnership between the Bodleian Libraries and the Royal Archives, who have even taken the effort to re-key each journal entry, allowing for Queen Victoria’s journals to be fully searchable!

If you’ve ever wanted the inside details of what it’s like to be royalty, this database will bring you closer than any contemporary footage of the Royal Family!

The Women’s Wear Daily Archive

The Women’s Wear Daily Archive gives users access to a comprehensive list of Women’s Wear Daily magazine, from 1910 up into the past twelve months. Keep in mind, this is a weekly publication, so there is a lot of fashion history to sift through! This archive is excellent for anyone interested in print media, women’s fashion, mainstream culture, fashion history, and marketing and advertising.

The Sportswear and Leisure Living: Midi Moods, report on midi-skirts, Feb 14, 1968. Women's Wear Daily.

The Sportswear and Leisure Living: Midi Moods, report on midi-skirts, Feb 14, 1968. Women’s Wear Daily.

For those of you not familiar with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), it is a trade publication for the fashion industry, and is referred to often as “the bible of fashion.” The publication focuses on changing trends in fashion, as well as contemporary industry news. The publication is also famous for sparring with big names in fashion, including Perry Ellis, Oscar de la Renta, and Balegencia.

Bottoms Up: Paris Fashion Verite. March 7, 1994, Women's Wear Daily

Bottoms Up: Paris Fashion Verite. March 7, 1994, Women’s Wear Daily

Admittedly, the database is pretty stripped down. There is a basic search feature, but it doesn’t appear that the archive has really been curated in anyway. It is definitely worthwhile to browse old issues, but it seems like this database might be of best use when keeping a specific designer, collection, or year in mind. Each article is scanned as a different pdf, and provides easy access citation resources, as well as a large quantity of metadata for easy organization.

This archive is excellent for the next time you’re looking for some vintage fashion inspiration. From Cher to Bjork, every major fashion icon in the past century has made an appearance in these pages.

Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War

The archive of Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War is another database of trade publications, specifically targeted to servicemen and women of all nations during the World War I. The database is comprised of over 1,500 periodicals, written and illustrated by members of the armed forces between 1914-1919. This database provides full scans of the magazines in their entirety.

More Navy Officers Needed. Army and Navy Journal: Gazette of the Regular. March 30, 1918. Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War.

More Navy Officers Needed. Army and Navy Journal: Gazette of the Regular. March 30, 1918. Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War.

Scholars working in English, French, and German literature and print media will find these resources beneficial, as these publications provide a perspective not typically seen by the general public: that of military workers communicating directly to other military workers during WWI.

The database is searchable by language of publication, location, year, and field, including: Infantry, Medical, Prisoners of War, Navy, and Training.

The texts are available to download as PDFs, and the document viewer is equipped with a great zoom-feature that allows researchers to read more easily the small text.

These are incredibly fascinating documents, and for me, they pose a lot of questions. For example, who was producing them? How widely distributed were they? and How did this practice contribute to the events that took place during WWI? A search through this archive will surely provide some answers!

MetPublications: Metropolitan Museum of Art Adds 600+ Titles to Digital Archive

Recently, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has released 643 art and art history books online, in full color, available for free. Highlights of this release include the fact that over 300 of the titles are out-of-print, (and therefore hard-to-find) originally published between 1968 and the present.

The database, called MetPublications, allows users to search and read publications online, but can also be downloaded as a PDF for no extra cost. For out-of-print titles, MetPublications also offers a print-on-demand feature for 140 different titles. Newer titles that are currently in print can be previewed online, but are not yet fully available for free online.

French Dress (Right, ca. 1864) and American Dress (Left, ca. 1856) from the Met's publication, "Bloom" (out-of-print).

French Dress (Right, ca. 1864) and American Dress (Left, ca. 1856) from the Met’s publication, “Bloom” (out-of-print).

Titles that are free to read online are available through Google books, for example, this digitized version of Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch (published 2000). I personally prefer to download the full PDF, as I find the Google book viewer to be somewhat distracting–especially considering that a main feature of these books is their stunning, full color reproductions.

On the site, a toolbar helps sort the vast quantity of titles available, allowing you to access for example, only the titles with the full text available online, notable publications, or popular Met titles. The user-friendly website is perfect for scholars looking for research material and art enthusiasts alike.

This move to open access also speaks volumes in regards to the popularization of digital publishing "Goya: 67 drawings" in Google Bookswithin the field of art, as the Met is following the trend of other museums. For example, The J. Paul Getty Museum, who in 2014 released over 250+ art and history titles online for free the to the public, available on their virtual library.