From the Getty Research Institute:
In 1805, French artist and draftsman Elie-Honoré Montagy set off on a trip through Italy, making a visual record of the works of classical antiquity to be found there. The result, an album of more than 430 drawings and tracings from Montagny’s travels through Italy, acts as a kind of “paper museum,” revealing the state and breadth of Italian antiquity collections in the early 1800s.
For researchers Martine Denoyelle and Delphine Burlot at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA, the French national institute of art history) in Paris, the album is a time machine. The ninety pages in the album preserve a rare look into artistic trends of both the nineteenth century (the time of the album’s creation) and classical antiquity (the time of the objects that the album depicts).
Its research value to traditional art history practice was clear to Burlot and Denoyelle, the leaders of what came to be known as the “Digital Montagny” research team. It was also clear that studying it from Paris presented a challenge: its bound folios, jam-packed with images, needed to stay safely cloistered in the exactingly climate-controlled sublevels of the Research Institute.
The Getty’s digital art history team was determined that this challenge could be overcome. Together, the Research Institute and the Insitut national decided that Montagny’s album would be the perfect object for an online research project that would result in the Institut’s first born-digital publication. Today the outcome of that initiative is live on the web as Elie-Honoré Montagny’s Recueil d’Antiquités: A Digital Critical Edition.
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