Mapping Titian allows users to visualize one of the most fundamental concerns of the discipline of Art History: the interrelationship between an artwork and its changing historical context. Focusing on the paintings executed by the Venetian Renaissance artist, Titian (ca. 1488-1576), this site offers a searchable provenance index of his attributed pictures and allows users to create customizable collections of paintings and customizable maps that show the movement of the pictures over time and space with the application of various filters. The collections and maps can be shared with other users or can remain private. The site also includes a glossary with short biographies of patrons and collectors of Titian’s pictures and references with a selected bibliography of relevant scholarship. The main goal of Mapping Titian is to create a tool from which new research, discoveries, and experiences can be inspired, guided, and shared. The site user is conceived of as a site thinker.
Mapping Titian contains the most up-to-date information available from print publications and from museum websites for the provenance of the paintings. The sources for each painting’s provenance are cited each time the picture changes ownership and/or location. The references page includes a complete bibliographic entry for these sources. Provenance information often changes, especially as the current owners conduct further research, and consequently this site will also be updated to reflect these new discoveries. Users are encouraged to share new information and/or to offer corrections to the current database. As of now, the site includes only paintings attributed to Titian and, because of attribution questions, does not yet include drawings by the artist. Prints and copies made after Titian’s paintings will be part of future phases of development. We are still inputting data, references, and biographies of collectors, as well as correcting as many errors as possible. However, this information frequently changes, with attributions of paintings changing and new publications emerging on a regular basis. Completion of the site will never occur, we're discovering, and that makes any digital project in art history a terrifically alive place to observe just how dynamic art history is.
The paintings by the16th-century Venetian artist have proven to be an especially rich microcosm of possible directions for the future project, Mapping Artworks, of which this current site would be one part. Titian’s pictures involve a variety of conditions and circumstances—a celebrity artist with a publicized reputation during and after his lifetime, the international city of Venice, a reliance on travel and letters for communication and exchange—which also play a role in the “lives” of artworks in successive time periods. Future phases of this project will include additional ways beyond geographic maps to visualize these “lives,” including non-geographic networks and 3-d virtual reconstructions of important collecting spaces in history. In addition, we will be developing ways to overlay travel itineraries of individuals on the maps of artworks, which will facilitate studies of which artworks were seen by whom. This was, in fact, the question that led Professor Jodi Cranston, Antien Knaap, and a team of students (Nikki Bookwalter, Rachel Daigle, Hannah Franke, Ariel Green, and Lindsay Ladner) from the Department of History of Art & Architecture at Boston University to work on this project. Comments, updates, suggestions, and reports of errors can be emailed to Jodi Cranston.