Mapping Paintings, or How to Breathe Life Into Provenance

Authored by: Jodi Cranston

The Routledge Companion to Digital Humanities and Art History

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138585584
eBook ISBN: 9780429505188
Adobe ISBN:


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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston houses the extraordinary collection of Mrs. Gardner in a purpose-built Venetian-style palace. Observing the artworks in exactly the same arrangement as Mrs. Gardner experienced them allows visitors to situate themselves physically in the early twentieth century and to imagine a kind of kinship with the world of Fenway Court, as Mrs. Gardner referred to her house. This type of house museum arguably nudges us into the edges of history a bit more easily and effectively than the galleries of a traditional purpose-built museum: the wallpaper, the furnishings, the absence of wall labels. But how much of the lives of these artworks still remains lost to us as we stand before them? How much of the life of any artwork remains lost to us when we look at it in a museum?

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