James Ensor’s Digital Saint Anthony

The Art Institute of Chicago recently held the exhibit, James Ensor: The Temptation of Saint Anthony. To accompany the exhibit, the museum published both a print catalog, as well as an online scholarly catalogue. The online version, however, is not simply the pages of the print catalog in a digital format, though it does contain the same acknowledgements, essays and catalog entries. Rather, this enhanced online scholarly catalog is another publication from the museum that points to the future of art history publications, fully utilizing digital technology to add a wealth of information and high quality, high-resolution images to the study of an incredible work of art.

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Overall drawing page from Ensor catalog

 

What’s so astonishing about the catalog/mini-site is that it allows users to select a section of the drawing, read explanations and comments about what is depicted in that particular section, and zoom in on the section to see the drawing in astonishing high-definition detail. The image above shows the drawing as it’s divided into sections for viewing. Below is  the page for a section on the far left side of the drawing that includes a discussion of the content of the drawing, as well as links to other related images. The essays, likewise, have links to the drawing.

Page for Sheet 5A
Page for Sheet 5A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the same section, using the zooming feature:

Sheet 5A zoom with tools
Sheet 5A zoom with tools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also videos on the conservation of the drawing, Ensor’s technical process, and a video showing how the drawing was constructed. With these videos, the enhanced means for viewing the drawing, and the interactive scholarly content that can be linked directly to images on the site, this is an amazing work of digital art history and will benefit students, scholars, and lovers of James Ensor’s work for years to come.