January 16, 2022

Getty Research Institute Releases First Born-Digital Publication, “Pietro Mellini’s Inventory in Verse, 1681”

From the GRI:

The Getty Research Institute has released its first born-digital publication, Pietro Mellini’s Inventory in Verse, 1681, edited by Murtha Baca and Nuria Rodríguez Ortega, with notes and essays by Baca, Ortega, Francesca Cappelletti, and Helen Glanville.

This publication, based on research that was conducted in the online collaborative environment known as The Getty Scholars’ Workspace, includes a digital facsimile, transcription, translation, and analysis of a seventeenth-century manuscript, an inventory of artworks in the collection of the Mellini family in Rome.


In the thirteen brief essays that are part of the scholarly apparatus surrounding the original object, Baca and her co-authors explore this unusual document, explaining its history, purpose, context, and relationship to a conventional legal inventory of the same art collection that was drawn up just a year before. Pietro Mellini’s Inventory in Verse, 1681, provides insight into the collecting practice of elite Roman families of the Baroque period and into the important role that inventories played in the fashioning of these families’ public identities.

Unlike a conventional print publication, this online book does not simply provide a list of the artists mentioned in the inventory, but provides these artists’ names as controlled vocabulary, linking the names as they appear in the inventory (often with alternate spellings) to the full information in one of the GRI’s electronic thesauri, the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN). Similarly, the publication’s “List of Artworks” section provides information about the works in the inventory including an art-historical analysis of them, but also indicates what each work depicts using Iconclasssubject categories.

Digital art historical publications offer new possibilities not only for sharing the product of research, but also illuminating the process by which it is created. This publication reveals debates between scholars, preserved within the annotations of the manuscript. Where Baca translates “di sua fama . . . il chiaro suono” in Folio 2, verso as “the clear sound of his fame,” Glanville suggests “his resounding fame.” Baca responds with a third option: “his clarion fame.” The exchange exposes the discursive aspects of art historical research, interpretation, and argumentation, as well as the subjective nature of translation work.

Learn More About the New Publication

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.