Status and Description of the Hamlet Art Database
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Thursday, 22 April 2010 19:28
Written by Administrator

Welcome |  History |  Description of Database |  Database as teaching and research tool |  Desiderata |  Sample Records |  MIT Shakespeare Projects |  Some differences between MIT art materials and Hamlet Art Database |  Additional reading material |  Brief biography of database compiler

The Hamlet Art Database exists in more that one version. The versions employed in the MIT Shakespeare Electronic Archive and in the MIT Ramparts project differ considerably from the database I originally compiled. As explained elsewhere, the MIT versions have different goals and are shaped by certain financial, technical, and (above all) legal restrictions. The database that sits on my PC attempts to include records of all Hamlet art works produced between 1709 and 1900; each record contains more data fields than the MIT versions; and it permits a far wider range of searches. The sample records that I have provided are similar to what I see on my own screen, with one important exception. I have not incorporated thumbnail versions of the digitized image. Instead, there is at present only an icon linked to the same .jpeg images used in the MIT versions. To permit access to the high-resolution Kodak PCD versions of the images, one database field gives the relevant Kodak CD reference (there are about twenty of these CDs). The CD must then be loaded separately. For viewing both the .jpeg images and the Kodak CD images, I use PaintShop Pro, although any image viewing software that can read both .jpeg and .pcd images would serve the purpose.

One further point should perhaps be noted. The database fields shown in the sample records I have provided and the fields that appear on my PC are limited to those that I have chosen for normal working purposes. Each record actually contains additional fields, most of which pertain to MIT's needs. These "hidden" fields include MIT's unique ID number for the record (I have my own unique ID number), a field noting whether the record is included in the Ramparts Project, a number of fields to show the beginning and ends of the MIT electronic text blocks that are linked to the record, a Short Bibliography field (MIT's substitute for my sometimes longer Bibliography field), and a Short Description field (MIT's substitute for my sometimes longer Description field). Also included are MIT's Kodak CD numbers (these differ from mine) and the identification numbers for all the .jpeg images created by MIT from the Kodak PCD originals. In total, each database record contains 49 fields. For the layout I most frequently use for on-screen browsing and searching, I use 27 fields, most of which I keep in an "indexed" state to speed searches. The following provides a description of the fields that I use in the on-screen layout that I generally use:

1. Unique Identification Number Every record is given a unique number, a useful internal feature and a means of establishing a clear identity when there are more than one version of an art work..
2. Riverside Shakespeare Edition Act and Scene Wherever it is possible to identify precisely that at art work depicts a specific scene from Hamlet, act scene and line numbers are provided.
3. Riverside Shakespeare Edition Line Number Having Act, Scene, and Line numbers, the user can search the database for art works that depict specific moments in the play.
4. Through Line Numbers A second means of searching for art works that depict specific moments in the play is by the use of through line numbers. These are derived from the system Charlton Hinman first established. Subsequently, Paul Bertram and Bernice Kliman used them in The Three-Text Hamlet. They are also of major importance to the structure of the MIT Shakespeare Electronic Archive.
5. Name of Original Artist/Designer Where the original creator or designer of a work is known, this name is given, even if the specific entry (record) is based only on a copy (e.g. engraving, lithograph, woodcut, etc.) of that original. This is an important details, since, for example, a number of paintings have not survived, whereas reproductions of them still exist.
6. Dates of Original Artist/Designer (Where known)
7. Date of Original Art Work (Where known)
8. Medium of Original Art Work/Design (E.g., Oil, water-colour, engraving, lithograph, photograph, bronze sculpture)
9. Name of Artist Responsible for Work Recorded in this Data Record This may or may not differ from the name recorded in item 5 above. Thus, although the Original Artist/Designer for the frontispiece for the 1744 Hanmer edition of Hamlet is recorded as Francis Hayman (1708-76), the engraving in Hanmer's edition was by Hubert Gravelot (1699-1773).
10. Dates of Artist Responsible for Work Listed in this Record (Where known)
11. Date of Art Work Listed in this Record (Where known)
12. Medium of Work Recorded in this Record This may, of course, differ from item 8 above.
13. Size Records dimensions of art work in this record. Dimensions in both centimetres and inches are provided. Unless otherwise stated, the dimensions are of the image only.
14-17. Actor(s) These four fields permit listings for up to four identifiable actors who appear in the art work.
18. Production Some art works depict specific productions of Hamlet, a character as he/she appeared in a specific production, or a set design for a specific production. The field entry records place, theatre, and director/manager.
19-20. Location(s) Two fields (they could be merged) recording where a copy or copies of the art work are located. In the case of an engraving, for example, the entry may list a number of locations where the item may be found. Wherever possible shelf of catalogue numbers within specific locations are given. When many copies of an item exist, a selected listing is recorded. Priority is given to listing items in the Folger Shakespeare Library collection.
21. Type A broad indication of the subject-matter of the art work being listed, such as Portrait, Scene, Imagined Scene (e.g. the murder of King Hamlet), Set Design, Title-Page.
22. Bibliography This field contains selected bibliographical details of relevant secondary literary and reproductions of art works in secondary material. At present it is very selective. This is one area where a great deal of further work could be done in the future, since such material is of such potential help to users.
23. Description A detailed description of art work. A verbal description may be useful when a user is searching for particular images (i.e. references to swords, moonlight, the sea, Ophelia's fan, etc.). The description may also be useful in alerting a user to important details that might be overlooked: Hamlet's "down-gyved" stocking, a tiny portrait-miniature on the floor, Ophelia's bare feet, etc. Inevitably, selecting the details that are described may involve a degree of interpretive subjectivity.
24. Comments A catch-all field for notes on any relevant topic that may be helpful to the user.
25. Original Kodak CD Number The database permits direct access to low resolution jpeg images. If high resolution images are required for more detailed examination of an art work, it is necessary to load the relevant Kodak CD separately.
26. Image Number on Original Kodak CD
27. Link to Image of Art Work At present a thumbnail image of the art work does not appear in the database layout. Instead, a small icon provides (when "clicked") a link to a full screen-size jpeg image of the art work.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 21:32