Paris guidebooks (historians of art and digital collections)

Paris guidebooks (historians of art and digital collections)
Voyage pittoresque de Paris, Dezallier d'Argenville © Bnf/

The impressive corpus of Paris guidebooks published between the Renaissance and the French Revolution is one of the invaluable sources for the history of early-modern art in France. They are consulted as much for getting to know old, destroyed parts of Paris as well as for critiquing the state of what has been preserved. However, this corpus is under-utilized today because of the number of volumes and editions, materially difficult to handle, and consultation is largely the result of searches for specific information: descriptions of lost artwork, attributions, and localizations.

Systematic text encoding (TEI) should reboot usage and shed light on transversal issues. Specifically, it will shed light on the emergence of a heritage consciousness by studying, for example, the early-modern period’s examination of medieval heritage or in identifying the shifting of artworks within a space (church, hôtel) and the moving hierarchicalization (relegation, promotion in key spaces). Which objects (paintings, sculptures, buildings) retained by their old authors? Which have been overlooked? How are “rediscoveries” by 20th-century art historians situated in relation to this older perspective?

Additionally, the project seeks to study the contributions of the digital edition in the practice of doing art history and to envision its (good and/or bad) consequences on the uses and type of knowledge developed. Finally, it is advisable to identify the diverse functionalities to which the placement of this collection online, for both a general and a specialized audience, must respond. The project relies on a partnership with the BnF.

Project leader
Marianne COJANNOT-LE BLANC, university professor (art history), University of Paris West Nanterre La Défense, History of Arts and Representations (HAR H-MOD)

Internal cluster partners
History of Arts and Representations (HAR);
Models, Dynamics, Corpus (MODYCO);
French National Library (BnF)

Duration: 5 years