Clarac, Musée de sculpture

Archaeology before the development of photography. The exploration of ancient sculpture before the middle of the 19th century as portrayed in Clarac’s "Musée de sculpture antique et moderne".

to the engravings of "Clarac, Musée de sculpture"

Introduction of Clarac's Online-Edition, Musée de sculpture" (German)

Prof. Dr. Dietrich Boschung

The realization of the project would not have been possible had the Fritz-Thyssen-Foundation not so generously funded it. The goal was to coherently portray the state of archaeological knowledge on ancient statues in around 1850. This is enabled by Clarac’s “Musée de sculpture antique et moderne”, which contains six volumes. By combining it with the results of research conducted so far as well as the documentation, the relation between media of documentation and scientific questions is to become clear. Therefore work has concentrated on the volumes III – V. Thus, the about 3.000 Greek and Roman statues illustrated by Clarac have been recorded. As the current location could be determined for the major part of the statues, it was possible to link them to up-to-date catalogues and databases.

Since Clarac refers to publications as old as from the 16th century for his illustrations as well as for his explanations, the work also contains a description of the state of archaeological knowledge before the develpoment of photography, which then enabled new forms of capture, of comparison and also of categorization. A brief text, complementary to the database, describes the history of origins, the intention, the historical position as well as the effect of Clarac’s work.

The information-technological realization of the project consists of the following interlocking processes:

  1. the digitalization of the volumes of "Musée de sculpture antique et moderne"
  2. the scientific development of the sculptures illustrated by Clarac
  3. the research and media-historical synthesis of the work
  4. the expansion of Arachne with a reception module

Volumes 3-6 are now available online in Arachne.

The scientific analysis concentrated on central areas in Clarac’s work, such as the sculptures in the Louvre as well as the European collections he analyzed. Results of the process were:

  • around 2300 reception records
  • around 2200 reproduction records
  • around 300 individual object reference records

The creation of records naturally involved linking them to individual objects, reproductions, receptions, sometimes to multipart monuments and of course to their respective historic collections.
Furthermore, the older engravings used by Clarac have been digitized in the bookbrowser (to iDAI.bookbrowser).

The expansion of Arachne with a reception module offers the possibility to differentiate between historical statements on an object and factual information about the same object. This structure was projected on the concept of an online book with flippable pages.

Reinhard Förtsch