Maria Madalena

MARE, Museum of Art for Research and Education is an Iconographic Index and a database hosted on a website containing images and texts. Access is unrestricted, interactive, and free of charge as a non-profit project. Its subject matter is Western art. This database now contains over 1,000 works with new ones being posted on a daily basis.


Axis 1: An iconographic index

The repertoire of themes shown in works of art is organized as an iconographic index.The extremely wide range of themes in the history of Western art may be grouped into nine major categories:

I - Mythology, Ancient History and Topography (1-499)
II - Bible and Christianity (500-849)
III - Medieval, Modern and Contemporary History (850-999)
IV - Medieval, Modern and Contemporary Literature (1000)
V - Allegories and Artistic Themes, Liberal and Mechanical Arts, Psychological
and Moral Themes (1100-1199)
VI - Science, scientific illustration and Ethnography (1200-1299)
VII - Social Life and Genre (1300-1599)
VIII - Nature, Landscape and Arcadia (1600-1632)
IX - Portraits and caricatures (1700)
X - Sundry themes and unidentified Images

Each of these nine major categories is subdivided into more specific topics, currently numbering around 3,800 themes.


2. Axis 2: Artists' names

MARE currently lists some 800 names, classified alphabetically and by century.


3. Axis 3: Division by historical period and cultural sphere (27 categories)

In addition to indexing by theme, each artwork is also indexed by its historical period and broader cultural sphere. On this axis, we have a grid of 27 categories.


4. Axis 4: Techniques and supports
a. Architecture (including internal and external views, monuments, plans, cross-
sections, etc.).

b. Sculpture (statues and reliefs)

c. Painting (includes two-dimensional representations in general: painting, engraving,
drawing, photography, etc.).

d. Decorative arts (goldsmithery, fabrics, glass, stained glass, jewelry, cameos, precious stones, medals, weapons, armor, etc.)



5. Axis 5: Location of works (museums and other collections)
MARE has so far listed some 450 museums and other collections

All works registered on MARE supply 13 types of information:

1 - Image with three zoom levels
2 - Title of the work
3 - Name of the artist
4 - Iconographic index code
5 - Technique
6 - Dating
7 - Historical period and / or cultural sphere
8 - Dimensions of the work
9 - Location of work
10 - Collection inventory record
11 - Analysis of the work, maximum length 5,000 characters, signed and dated
12 - Bibliography for the work
13 - User contributed texts (interactive)


There are basically two ways of finding your way around MARE - passively through the [BROWSE] or actively through the [SEARCH]. Whichever one you use, works will always be shown in chronological order.


Having briefly described the site, I shall now proceed to analyze its potential and highlight the main features that distinguish MARE from art-history databases from other countries, such as ArtStore, WGA, Joconde, the Louvre's Atlas, Humboldt-University Berlin's Census of Antique Works of Art and Architecture Known in the Renaissance, the Beazley Archive, Princeton's Index of Christian Art, or Iconos of Università di Roma 'La Sapienza'.


Eight specific characteristics of MARE may be distinguished:


1. It shows images as part of analytical grids (iconography, artists, historical periods, collections);


2. It intends to show and discuss all the works mentioned by Giorgio Vasari’s Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori. scultori e architettori, Giuntina, 1568.


3. It features text / image relations, particularly the question of textual sources, whether mythological, biblical, historical, literary or scientific;


4. It emphasizes analyses for each image, with extended texts that in some cases come close to being monographic essays about the work;


5. Texts are interactive with a field for more in-depth analysis proposed by advanced users;


6. Texts are signed and dated by researchers with experience in the specific field in question, who hold at least a master's in art history, supplemented by specialized bibliography;


7. There are links to other image and text databases;


8. There is an archive of art-history essays with emphasis on iconographic studies


Through these resources and the two ways of navigating the site - actively or passively as mentioned above - students may explore certain dimensions of art history starting from a wide range of lines of research. Here are some of them.


Passively using the [BROWSE] function enables visitors to enrich their repertoire. In this respect, MARE is like a photographic collection for students of art history in particular, being both informative and formative. It offers visual sources for research, providing a steadily growing collection of works of art with analyses already relatively well-developed and specialized bibliography.


Actively using the [SEARCH] function enables visitors to support their own art history research, mostly in iconography and the image / text relationship, which are MARE's primary contents.


Luiz Marques
October 2011

Available Images: 1247

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