A behind-the-scenes look at the research and development of “Rembrandt’s Circle,” an online interactive.
Join Dr Maxime Valsamas, Curatorial Assistant, European Art, and Danuta Sierhuis, Digital Development Coordinator, via Zoom, for a behind-the-scenes look at the research and development of “Rembrandt’s Circle,” an online interactive network visualisation of artists in The Bader Collection and their ties to Rembrandt van Rijn. Find it here: https://agnes.queensu.ca/microsites/r…
Over the years, Agnes has talked about how we are a centre for the study of Rembrandt and of 17th-century Dutch Art in Canada due to the strength of The Bader Collection. This project combines digital humanities and art historical research to foreground the social and artistic connections present in The Bader Collection through a network map. It highlights the incredible and discerning way in which works by Rembrandt and his circle were collected and brought together by Dr Alfred Bader, and now, at Agnes.A behind-the-scenes look at the research and development of “Rembrandt’s Circle,” an online interactive.
Join Dr Maxime Valsamas, Curatorial Assistant, European Art, and Danuta Sierhuis, Digital Development Coor …
The Rembrandt Circle
The Rembrandt Circle
The Rembrandt Circle
How did you come up with the idea
How did you come up with the idea
How did you come up with the idea
How did you research the content
How did you research the content
How did you research the content
Design and development
Design and development
Design and development
Use CTRL+F to find key words if it is a longer transcript.
>> Thanks for joining us this evening. I’m Charlotte Gagnier. I’m the Program Assistant at
Agnes Etherington Art Centre.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging
that Queens University and Agnes Etherington Art Centre are situated
on the traditional Anishinaabe
and Haudenosaunee Territory. This is also where I’m joining
me from this evening.
So, to acknowledge this territory is to recognize its longer history one predating
establishment of the earliest European colonies.
It’s also to acknowledge the territory’s
significance of indigenous peoples who lived and continue to live upon it.
A peoples whose practices and spiritualties
were tied to the land and continue to develop in relationship to the territory
and its other inhabitants today.
The Kingston indigenous community
continues to reflect the area’s Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee roots and is
also a significant Métis community.
And their first peoples from other nations
across Turtle Island present here today. I’m moved to think about my positionality
and the privileges that have led me
to be able to live and work here. And I welcome you to all spend some time
researching and reflecting on the land
that you’re coming from and to consider
how you can contribute to the work of decolonizing institutions,
communities, and minds.
So welcome to Exploring Rembrandt’s Circle. This evening, Dr. Maxime Valsamas and Danuta Siershuis will be sharing a behind
the scenes look at the research and development
of Rembrandt’s Circle, an online
interactive network visualization of artists in The Bader Collection and
their ties to Rembrandt van Rjin.
Following this conversation, there’ll be
time for a question and answer period. So please save your questions until the end.
I’d like to mention that the
session is being recorded, and it’s being recorded in speaker mode. So only those of you who speak will be recorded.
If you’d like to ask a question at the end, but
don’t feel comfortable being in the recording, you’re welcome to submit your question in
the Chat Box and we’ll read it out loud.
And finally, I ask that you
keep your microphones muted, unless you’re asking a question.
So without further ado, I’d like to
introduce this evening’s speakers. Maxime Valsamas received his PhD in Art History
from Washington University
in St. Louis in May 2020.
His dissertation was on 19th
century French caricatures and political Works entitled Sustaining
the Republic, The Power of Political Prints
by Honouré Daumier, Édouard Manet,
André Gill, and Alfred Le Petit.
He has delivered a variety of talks related
to 18th and 19th century printmakers, including William Hogarth,
Francisco Goya, Honouré Daumier
and at museums in Canada and the United States. Since joining Agnes in June 2019 as
the Curatorial Assistant European Art,
he’s contributed to the launching
of the exhibition, Leiden circa 1630, Rembrandt Emerges.
He served as a copy editor for the
accompanying catalogue publication and organized the Rembrandt and
Leiden: New Perspective Symposium.
He’s also curated the exhibition From Tutor
to Hannover: British Portraits, 1590 to 1800.
Currently, he’s researching the Dutch and
Flemish artworks in The Bader Collection to enhance the collections online presence.
And he’s preparing an exhibition
titled Humour Me. A show highlighting caricatures from
Agnes’s permanent holdings scheduled
to open in spring 2021. Danuta Siershuis is the digital development
coordinator at Agnes and has been
with the museum since December 2018. She’s responsible for coordinating
the development and implementation
of Agnes’s digital programs in gallery and
online, opening expanded multimodal access
to collections, exhibitions, and research. Her aim is to use digital tools to tell
inspiring stories through art in new ways
and reduce access barriers to
artworks and information about them. Most recently, she was project lead for the
development of Agnes’s first digital strategy,
a refreshed website design for the
museum and the creation of digital Agnes.
She holds an M.A. in Art History with
specialization in Digital Humanities from Carleton University, a diploma
in Interactive Media Management
from Algonquin College and has
obtained a suite of relevant curatorial and digital project management experiences in
art galleries and archives over the last decade.
She’s a practising fibre artist and also
serves as Co-chair for the Board of Directors at Modern Fuel Artists-Run Centre.
So, welcome Max and Danuta. >> Thank you. I’m not sure — >> How are you guys?
Yes. I think we want to start
this discussion this evening. First, just if you could share
what is Rembrandt’s Circle
and give us a little demonstration of it.
The Rembrandt Circle
>> Well, first of all, the Rembrandt’s Circle is
a interactive network map of different artists
and their relationship to Rembrandt’s van Rjin. And I think Max will take us
through a little bit of a demo.
Do you want to share your — >> Yeah. So this interactive allows
us to look at over 100 paintings
within The Bader Collection and also
an additional 20 works on paper or so.
And we just wanted to quickly go through the
network and show you how — yes, all right.
So, basically, we have the
map in the middle here and we have Rembrandt very much at the centre.
And from him, we can see emanating a variety of
artists, who all have their own nodes as well.
And we see their initials on them. And basically, if you’re viewing this on a
desktop, then you can hover over with your mouse
and actually get to see what the
names of the artists actually are.
And you will also notice that we have, from the circle in the middle,
basically three layers of rings.
And that’s to denote three
different forms of relationship that these other artists had to Rembrandt’s.
Closest ones had a direct tie to him. The ones in the middle possibly had ties to him.
And then actually, at the end, they did
not have direct interaction with Rembrandt,
but nevertheless, through their
art, they actually had ties.
Now on the right hand side,
we have the different types of connections that you can use as filters.
And they’re all colour coded. And those same colours reappear on the rings
as you can see within the smaller nodes.
And basically these are all clickable. And so you can rearrange basically the
map based on those separate connections.
And we’ll get into that a
bit more later on as well. We also have city ties by which you can
explore the different artists represented
in the collection as well. And basically, once you get closer into
a specific artist, you can click on him.
And basically we will have a
variety of information provided.
And you can see how, basically, the
cities that the artists worked in,
the specific connections they have to
Rembrandts are represented there again.
When we were capable, we would also
highlight a self-portrait of the artist or portrait made of that specific figure.
Lower down, we will have then the biography. And these are fairly short. So they’re more of a intro level that
we wanted to be able to showcase here.
And then the really exciting part comes
afterwards, where by scrolling further down,
all of the artworks by the said
artist will be represented. And we can click on each of these images.
And by doing so, we often then will have
comparative image specifically to the artwork,
which we also have in The Bader Collection. And so basically, that’s a quick overview.
And once you get further down actually, as well,
we can also see how there is a discover section.
And on each profile, we actually
have four other artists that will be basically highlighted
in the form of these flashcards.
And those are also each clickable. And so should you choose to explore their
network in that sense, you can also do so rather
than necessarily through the map. So hopefully that provides a bit of an idea
for those that haven’t had a chance to look
at the map on their own just yet. >> And I’ll just add that you can
also explore the artists by List View,
How did you come up with the idea
which Max if you wanted to just show that.
Yeah, so you get the same artists in the map. But now kind of at a glance, you
can see their full names and things.
And this is also how we show it on mobile.
It’s a bit more of a easier user
experience once you’re there. >> Could you speak to how you came up
with the idea for Rembrandt’s Circle?
>> [Chuckles]. It was a bit of a funny story, I think.
It was one of those moments
where we were in the office. We share an office, Max and I along with two
of our other colleagues and kind of turned
around one day and we started just brainstorming
ideas about how to show the breadth
of The Bader Collection through digital means.
And we had originally planned for this to be
an in-gallery moment with digital technologies.
But obviously COVID-19 put a pin in that. And it became an online only project.
But this is also part of a larger
digital development project to expand
and enhance the online presence of
The Bader Collection and at Agnes.
So we, kind of — and Max,
feel free to jump in —
to kind of really highlight the
strength of the collection too.
So, what do you have to say on that one, Max? I know we, kind of, tossed a lot
of ideas around on that and how,
from your end, did we come to it? >> Yeah, well, we also happen to come
across a publication that was put
out by the Rembrandthuis Museum in Amsterdam. And it was a publication related to an
exhibition on Rembrandt’s social network.
And so it wasn’t too dissimilar of an
idea as to what we were trying to do here.
And what we realized in that publication
is that they actually also had a map.
It was static in their case. So there was really no visual component to it.
And they were not trying to
produce it either as a digital tool.
So, we kind of, used that a bit as a jumping
point as well to then explore artists
in our own unique way as they
refer and are represented within The Bader Collection specifically.
So I think that also contributed
to our thought process. And of course, 2019 was also a
big anniversary year, so to speak,
celebrating Rembrandt’s career
really internationally. 2019 marked the 350th anniversary
of his passing.
And so, since there are so many great
resources and educational tools out there,
I think we also wanted The
Agnes to be able to contribute to that once again in its
own unique way as well.
>> And I think this also, kind of,
fills a gap in some of the messaging
around how we have talked
about The Bader Collection.
For a long time, we’ve talked about how, like,
Agnes is so well known for this collection
and for being, kind of, the centre for 16th
and 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Art.
But that really hasn’t, like, tangibly
been represented beyond the two catalogues
that David de Witt wrote yet. So, this, kind of, like really drives home,
like, how the collection has really centred
around Rembrandt, at least
for me, and the, kind of,
discernment that Alfred Bader
also had in collecting. Like, you really start to notice how,
through the research that Max is done,
and the design of the map, how, really like
well thought through the collection was
and how Alfred Bader also, kind of, came to decide on which artists he might
want to collect and things like that.
Like not being a European specialist
myself, like, I hope that this project,
kind of, conveys that to others as well. So that was just one thing that
I thought of, after the fact.
But I think it kind of came through
while Max and I were talking to you.
>> Yeah, no, I think that’s
a great point to point out. And just to simply quickly add to that,
as you mentioned, towards the end here,
I think it’s really only
been in the last, sort of, 40 years or so that artists
surrounding Rembrandt have really come
to the fore a bit more in scholarly discussions. And so I think this is it.
Dr. Bader was very much, kind
of, ahead of his curve in terms
of when he started collecting these works
for really focussing in on, sort of, the larger Rembrandt Circle that
we’re able to highlight here as well.
So, conceptually that did play a factor in what
we wanted to say and, sort of, showcase as well.
How did you research the content
>> And this research of Rembrandt’s
contemporaries and mentors and et cetera is obviously such a
large component, this interactive —
Max, could you speak to how
you researched this content? >> Absolutely.
So, of course, we made use of an enormous
amount of information and resources out there.
And I really only want to
highlight one in particular. And that is the RKD database, which is
the Netherlands Institute for Art History
in The Hague, in the Netherlands. That is available, of course, on internet. So basically, it offered a lot of the
information that we also wanted to contribute
to this project from our end, meaning
things like where an artist worked,
who they may have been connected
to, in terms of other artists, if they themselves were an
apprentice to someone, if they learnt
or if they taught someone as well. These types of connections, as well as the types
of artworks that they were most emphasizing
and highlighting throughout their career. And so that really, sort
of, set the base platform
for how we wanted to go about this project. But of course, we also wanted
to make it very much, sort of,
Agnes and Bader Collection specific content. And so, every single biography
will cover, kind of, two elements,
which are specific to the collection. And that is basically the idea of very much how
the artists in question is related to Rembrandt.
And so in the part I’ve highlighted
here, on Benjamin Cuyp’s biography,
first couple of sentences there very
much discuss basically the potential way
that he may have been connected to Rembrandt. And then the second part is even more revealing,
I think, to the collection specifically.
And that is we always wanted to make mention
of at least one of the artworks that are part
of The Bader Collection within
the oeuvre of that artist. And so we do happen to have Cuyp’s The
Circumcision and basically point to the fact
that the setting recalls
Rembrandt’s Simeon’s Song of Praise.
And if we do go lower down
in the Artworks section, then that connection can be
pulled out right here as you see.
So, those are the types of things
that we were really wanting to bring to the fore in the biographies.
Of course, we also wanted to focus
very much on the connection types.
And so we came up with categories that are very
much part of the art historical literature.
So the idea of a student or a follower, or
a competitor, these are terms that can apply
to Rembrandt specifically of course, but
to a large variety of artists as well.
And so, as long as we felt comfortable
that we could populate those fields,
that we thought that it would be quite
a successful way to be able to explore.
So we felt that within reason,
having several categories in a,
sort of, way a bit that more is better. Because even though the numbers could be
somewhat smaller, as we sort of have it
in decreasing order here, they would
still reveal a specific connection
that could be really interesting
to explore for art enthusiasts and sort of research scholars as well.
So quickly, if we just look at, sort
of, the one family member who happens to be Karel van der Pluym, an interesting
fact is that really, outside of Titus,
who happened to be Rembrandt’s own son, there
would not really be any other individual
who could operate as an artist in
relation to Rembrandt in his family
that could have basically
formed part of this category. So, I think that it’s actually quite
impressive, and a nudge to Dr. Bader,
that he was actually able
to acquire work by him. And so, I see it as a real
plus actually to highlight.
Now, of course, we have Cities as well
and I already briefly went through those. But this time around, what I wanted to
highlight is this No City component.
And we didn’t want to be basically
limited by geographical location.
Meaning that Rembrandt famously
only lived in Amsterdam and Leiden throughout really his entire career
and didn’t even leave the Dutch Republic.
But we have artists such as Adam Elsheimer, who is a German born artist
working primarily in Italy.
And through Rembrandt’s own teachers who had
travelled to Italy, Rembrandt got to know
about Elsheimer’s work and was
impacted by this foreigner. And so, since the Bader Collection does
have representation of artwork by Elsheimer,
for instance, we wanted to add these figures
as well into the full [inaudible], of course.
So I really do believe that it offers
many different options to, sort of, focus in on smaller pockets of individuals.
We also, of course, wanted to
highlight a lot of different artworks. And so, we were able to acquire image rights
to over 75 different comparative images,
several of which are repeated a few times
in the interactive based on subject matter.
And we were also able to acquire roughly 20
additional portraits or self-portraits as well.
And with these specific works, we,
kind of, had two ideas in mind.
And if we take a look at an example, again,
if we look at Jacob de Wet the Younger,
then we wanted to draw out connections between
a subject matter that a pupil or a follower,
in this case, may have been
attracted to something
that Rembrandt had done previously
with the exact same subject. So, in this case, we’re looking at The
Angel of the Departing the Family of Tobias,
which Rembrandt had created both
as an etching and as a painting. And so, we can see different elements where
de Wet probably looked at Rembrandt’s work
to gain some, sort of, perspective on how
to depict the specific biblical subject.
And the other example I wanted to quickly
show you as well is in our collection,
we have a beautiful Jacob Backer painting.
And we also wanted to provide context to the
actual artist’s oeuvre within themselves.
So in this case, we know of
at least two other examples where Backer depicted the
subject of Grenada and Daifilo.
And so, here we have all
of these at your disposal. And so, the idea of, you know,
looking at a specific timeline
within the artist’s career can already come across more easily with these
types of connections.
Now, I also wanted to reveal
a few other — excuse me —
a few other revealing facts about the project that I thought are really
worthwhile to share with everyone.
And that is that, of course, Rembrandt
was someone who was really invested in conveying human emotions,
dramatic lighting effects
and really demonstrate his
storytelling skills through artworks.
And so, here we have two examples that
are not part of The Bader Collection, but do form part of the interactive
And all of those elements really come to
the fore, of course, sort of this dark light
but then having this beautiful glow on a
few figures on the image here or of course,
the emphasis on facial features and
hand gestures on the work on the left.
Really, those elements all come to the fore. And those are things that artists around
Rembrandt also adopted to great effect, I think.
And I think that, that is also an element
that Dr. Bader once again, sort of, keyed in on when selecting what
types of artworks to acquire.
So, some of these examples you can see
that here and then especially with the dark
and symbolic lighting in these two works. And then, in this case, are strong emphasis
on hand gestures and also on facial,
sort of, appearances and expressions. So, even though Dr. Bader was not able to
acquire religious subject matter as a painting
by Rembrandt specifically, he
definitely was targeting artworks
of religious topics by other artists. So out of the 100 or so paintings that we
highlight in this project that are part
of the collection, roughly speaking,
50 percent are biblical subjects.
Another thing that the project really
reveals is the loose and painterly technique
for which Dr. Bader really acquired a taste. And so even though we have several
artists who were very close to Rembrandt,
such as Gerrit Dou, who happened
to be Rembrandt’s first pupil and probably the most successful even
surpassing Rembrandt’s fame in the 17th century.
But because Gerrit Dou painted
very much in a fine style,
it’s not someone that Dr.
Bader chose to collect. So actually, we do not have a single autographed
work by Dou, though he happens to be part
of this feature project because
of an unknown follower. And I think it’s very much the subject
of Saint Jerome in the Wilderness.
So a Saint figure that attracted
Dr. Bader to acquire that.
Instead, on the flip side as I
said, he chose to focus on, sort of,
the rougher style that was very
particular to Rembrandt in his late career. So, we do happen to have four paintings by
an artist by the name of Arent de Gelder.
And De Gelder essentially
produced over a hundred works even after Rembrandt had passed away and very much
continued his legacy into the 18th century.
And I believe that even just by looking at
this sample of works, Rembrandt’s legacy lives
on as well in The Bader Collection,
so to speak, through this artist. And then lastly, I just wanted to also point out
that, of course, Rembrandt was very well known
and famous for having a passion for costumes. And he would often go down to the market
in Amsterdam and buy clothing at the market
and use them as props in his paintings. And those are elements that many of his
students, followers, artists that were inspired
by him also adapted in their paintings. So here, we can clearly see how that
works out where the headgear, the scarf,
and the earring of this figure,
pretty much act as the protagonists, even more so than the figure himself.
And that also can be said, of course, about
once again, two works by Arent de Gelder here,
where really by focussing on
Old Testament themes very much like Rembrandt had done before him, Gelder
had ample opportunities to depict such garbs.
And he may have used exotic oriental costumes
with the greatest consistency as a student
of Rembrandt’s throughout his career. So, you can really see the freedom
with which he emphasized some
of these really fantastic
costumes in such works.
Design and development
>> Thank you for sharing that. So rich seeing these comparatives. Again, really helps us understand
where these artists are coming
from and how they inspired Rembrandt. I’d like to talk a little bit about the design
and development process, another mammoth task.
And Danuta, if you could share, like, how do
you go from concept to this finished product?
>> Through many, many steps, [laughter]. I’m just kidding.
So, when we came up with the idea,
obviously, we have to, kind of, flush out how did we want to approach it?
So, we came up with the idea to
possibly try to do a social network map.
So while Max started doing the content
research, I started to do a bit of research
into what had been done and like how we
could, like, formally conceive of the project.
So, we looked at social media. We looked at traditional social network graphs
with the different nodes and the lines and,
kind of, connecting them all together. And then I also looked at several museum
projects that had also done social networks
to see, kind of like, what worked
what didn’t work with those. So for example, the Connects Vermeer
Project that the National Gallery
of Ireland did a few years ago and the
Inventing Abstraction network graph map
that the Museum of Modern Art in New York did.
And really, nobody had done
this with Rembrandt’s
in a digital means like Max
had mentioned earlier. I found one reference in a
footnote of an article that said
that there was a network graph
done on Rembrandt’s, kind of,
social circle done in the early 2000s. But I couldn’t find it anywhere online.
So, it probably fell victim
to technological obsolescence or had a limited time period on the internet.
But for this project, we really wanted to
make sure that it was a lasting experience
for visitors and as a resource for
knowledge on the European art collection.
And that could be potentially put in
the galleries at a later date perhaps.
So, we had also done work on the
Leiden Interactive Map from last year
with the Leiden circa 1630,
Rembrandt Emerges Exhibition. And we had worked with Jeff Hunt, who is
a developer and designer out of Ottawa.
And we decided to work again with him because
we felt like there were a couple elements
to this project that were, kind of, similar. And he helped us to, kind of, like
actually flesh things out a little bit.
But on this slide, you’ll
notice we have idea and concept.
We go into research and content,
build that kind of parallel. And then once we get into the design, we worked
with Jeff to do low fidelity wireframe designs.
So without any images, it’s just, kind of
like, playing around with boxes on a screen
and loose text without any kind
of fonts applications to it yet.
And then we moved on to a
high fidelity and then a beta. And then we did quality assurance
and testing and launch.
Then now we’re, kind of, in the evaluation
phase to see how it’ll work long term.
But I’ve included here some slides. So Max, if you don’t mind advancing one.
This is kind of what we were
thinking about at that low fidelity.
And then you can see it in
the higher fidelity design. So initially, we had grouped, with
Jeff, the nodes for each of the artists
into these three, kind of, groups. And those were by city. However, for various reasons, we decided
to that it was a bit more complicated.
There was issues about the size of the
nodes and legibility and accessibility,
because originally, we had also decided
to make the node size smaller to represent
that outer ring of the map,
where Max was describing. They never may have met Rembrandt but still
had connection to him through their artwork.
And then the larger the node size would
mean that they had more of a connection.
This was very complicated. And we had a lot of issues trying to figure
out a way that was clear, that in the interface
of the of the interactive — I know we
had a lot of back and forth about this
over the summer months and actually went and
talked to colleagues who weren’t as close
to the project to see if it made sense to
them, because we were so ingrained in it.
And eventually, we clarified it,
made it simpler and, kind of,
got it to a point where it is today. So also about the project, which if you
go at the bottom of the interactive,
there’s a little explanation
of what the project is. And you’ll actually get more
information about some of the designs.
And then here on this slide, we just
have a different view of the map. So have the List View, for
mobile in particular evolved.
It originally was, kind of,
a single column list, which is mostly like how you
would see it on a mobile device.
However, Jeff had — our designer had the
brilliant idea of creating these, kind of,
flashcards, kind of like, collector cards,
as if you’re like a baseball collector.
You have the image, the title. And then they’re, kind of, like connection types
with the colour coding and the text description.
So we’ve made it quite semantic and clear
to those of you who checked out the list.
And we felt it was also important to include
this as an alternative to the Map View.
Because once you’re on the map, it became —
like, we were trying to figure out ways
to make the art and the artists, like,
trying to navigate the map as clear as possible. So you had the hover option. But we also wanted an alternative,
for mobile in particular,
so which would have become a
little bit more complicated trying
to navigate the map with
your finger on a screen. Like, you still have that option. But we wanted to provide another alternative
as well to make it as usable as possible.
So if I’ll just go to the next one.
That’s it. Okay, yeah. And then here, also, we have the artist
profile page and, kind of, how it evolved.
So on the left hand side, you
have the very first, kind of,
wireframe design and kind of concept. And it evolved quite a lot.
We went through a few different iterations of
the design, where we shuffled things around.
So it wasn’t always in the order that you
have today live on the on those sites.
We shifted around the way that profile
pictures are reflected on the page as well.
And this was in part due to licensing. We had to make sure that the artwork
wasn’t cuts or cropped in some ways.
And so we wanted to make sure that
the experience was consistent.
And also still maintained,
kind of, a social platform.
So for these profile pages, we did take
inspiration from platforms like Facebook
with the kind of cover banner
image, the profile, with the name,
and kind of your location and points of
connection to — like, if you were a visitor,
you were coming to, like, a friend’s page, like
it’ll say, like, you’re friends with so and so.
And you might know also these people. So that was something that we, kind of,
wanted to incorporate into the design
of the actual page and the profile. So related artists was, kind of, inspired by
that, you might know so and so, kind of thing.
And also just, kind of, we were hoping
that once you’re on a page and, kind of,
scrolling through, it would provide you
another avenue of discovering somebody else in the network that was either mentioned
in the biographies that Max wrote
or shared a similar connection type. And we organized the contents so that it would,
kind of, give you a sense of who the person was,
the artworks that were in the collection,
and then with our comparative images,
and then kind of give you
that other avenue to explore. And then here, we have the Artworks page.
This didn’t really change much [laughter]. We did, kind of, play around
with colour to make sure
that the artworks themselves
were shining in their own right.
We wanted to make sure that we
chose a colour that didn’t muddy or, kind of, clashed too much, I guess.
We went through a couple different blues. And at one point we even went to a brown.
But with works from this
period, and with Rembrandt
in particular, the colours can be quite earthy.
So they almost ended up blending
into the background a little bit. So we went back to this blue.
It’s not a solid colour. It’s actually a little bit modulated, which
kind of gives it a bit of a dynamic quality
and also references, kind of,
the background of the map itself,
which has kind of like a muddled
brown with like lighter colours.
There’s actually an artwork underneath there that the designer geniosly
decided to do it that way.
Max, correct me if I’m wrong, but
it was one of the Eeckhouts maybe?
I forgot which one. I don’t know if you remember, but
[multiple speakers] — what’s that? >> No, I think it was actually
a Ferdinand Bol painting.
>> Oh, yes. Yeah, it was. Yeah, sorry. [chuckles] Yeah. So there’s artworks kind
of hidden in places too.
That’s the only time that they’re hidden. Everywhere else is at least discoverable.
All right, so that’s it on that one. Is there a next slide?
>> Yes. >> Okay. Let go. Ah, yes. And then here, we also included
the cover image of the interactive itself.
And again, we, kind of, went through a
couple of different iterations of this to.
One of the design points that we wanted to bring
here was that, kind of, circular networked bit.
Like, that was the kind of core
idea of the network map itself.
So we brought in those, kind
of, node, that node shape.
We brought in some of the colours from the
connection types that are reflected here.
And again, you have that, kind of like, mottled
colouring in the background from the painting.
So then all you have to do is just click
Explore, and then you’re inside the map. And you can get in and explore from there.
Yes, so the network map has been up for almost,
I want to say, like two or three months now.
And it’s been doing quite well, I think. I’m really proud of it.
>> And it looks amazing. And we we’re going to move to
question and answer period in a second.
But I wanted to end with asking you both,
what are your hopes for this interactive?
How do you want people to interact with it? >> Well, I think one of our big hopes, of
course, is that people can discover some
of these very talented artists who do form
part of the Bader collection that ultimately,
although this is a project, of course, that has
Rembrandt at the centre both as his name appears
and of course, within the map
itself, it’s also very much about these other artists to shed light on them.
So ultimately, for me, I see
it equal about them as well.
And I think that we, by now, are aware
in, sort of, the literature and sort
of scholarly debates that are going around. More and more people are
willing to accept, of course,
that Rembrandt was not an
isolated genius, that in fact, he was exactly surrounded by
such great artists as well.
So by being able to do a project like
this, which incorporates once again,
over 40 different artists, and that’s
only speaking within our own collection — so if we really wanted to break
this out into a larger approach,
where we went beyond the Bader Collection,
then we’d even have more artists included.
So, I think that’s one of my hopes
for people to really be able to learn
about these really talented artists but that
have been more in the shadows of a Rembrandt,
and not wrongfully so, because of course,
Rembrandt is such a great art master.
And then I also think that one of the things
I’m, kind of, hoping that people are able
to really gain from this is just
a really dynamic way of exploring.
So of course, I love books and physical
publications are a key part of research.
But I think there’s an element that is, kind
of, maybe not lost, but just is hindered a bit
when trying to flip through a book and making
some of the connections that, in this case,
I believe are a bit easier to just, you know, by
a click of the mouse to arrive to a connection
or to basically read about an artist is an
artist profile and then from there being like,
“Okay, well I can go see him further
down and then get a better understanding for their work pretty quickly once again.”
And then lastly, I would say that
the sort of Bader Collection,
of course, is so important to the Agnes. But we do want to raise the profile of it on a
more national and international level as well.
And so by, kind of, discovering
who these artists are, and by maybe even understanding some of those,
kind of, patterns of collecting that he was able
to bring forth, and that I briefly
mentioned a bit earlier, I think that, yeah,
we just have a better understanding of
collecting practices of a very key individual
for the whole Queen’s community
and really a gem of a collection
that we have here in the heart of Kingston. So that’s, kind of, how I see people
interacting in the hopes for this project.
>> Yeah, like, I don’t have
much to add on top of that. But, I think that this is a fantastic
resource for scholars and also
for digital humanity scholars within art
history, or just for larger cultural studies.
And also just as an interest for how — like,
as an entry point for the general public to,
kind of, getting it more into European
art at Agnes and the Bader Collection.
I think my hope [laughter], at least on
the digital side, is that this is going
to be a really fantastic launch points for further digital engagements
at The Agnes in European art.
As we mentioned before, this has
been part of a three-year project. And this isn’t the end of it also.
We’re still working towards more
exciting initiatives around European art, and also just art in general at
Agnes through our digital programs
through digital Agnes and online. And we’re hoping to, yeah, like Mark said,
raise the profile of the Bader Collection
on the internet and provide new ways of
accessing critical information about it.
And digital is not static. So I see a lot of people in the chat
kind of saying, “How are you going to expand this in years to come?”
And the great thing about digital is that we
can add to it as, let’s say, new works come in
or new developments come in and the
research, like, in future curatorial work.
So, we are able to keep this
a lively, not a static source,
not like a print publication ever could. So yeah, that’s my hope for it instead of —
>> Quickly, I think, if I can add to that,
I would say going off of your point, Danuta,
exactly that, we are hopeful, of course, that we will receive a few
more artworks from the Baders.
And we know already, once that happens
that, of course, some of the artists
by whom there are still artworks that
the Agnes will be receiving totally fit
into the Rembrandt Circle network. And so that is absolutely one
way we can add to this as well.
And then another feature, which maybe adds a
layer of complexity, but I know that Danuta,
you and I had spoken about this over the
months, is of course, maybe creating a way
where we can also explore the connections between these other artists,
even more so as well.
So in this case, it’s sort of a
direct path between them to Rembrandt,
but maybe we could really explore, yeah, how
to connect almost everyone here, if possible.
And of course, not everyone would
have a connection to bring forth. But perhaps that could even touch upon artists
that are already represented by artworks
in the Bader Collection but
are not part of it here. So I think, yeah, we have
fantastic options really,
if we want to revisit this down the line. >> Yeah. And we also have a
stepping off point for other networks
within the Agnes’s collection too. >> Well, I’d like to open the
floor to any questions that we have
from other people who are here to this evening. And I’ve been reading some really
lovely comments in the Chat Box,
which we really appreciate [chuckles]. But yeah, please do feel free to
either ask a question Chat Box
or unmute yourself and say your question.
I did see one a while back,
which we could start with. Carol asked, “Will the story of why and
how Bader made his collection be included
or made this collection be included someday?” And Max, you hinted at some Bader’s
motivation it stoked Carol’s curiosity.
>> Yes. So Danuta not too long ago hinted
at the idea that this is just one project
that forms part of, kind of, a
three-year idea that we have in place.
And we are thinking very much about having, kind
of, the biggest component almost, so to speak,
and perhaps the last one being
a focus on certain essays
that would speak very much to the collection. And we were thinking of having one, of
course, dedicated to Dr. Alfred Bader himself.
And so we still have to figure out what ways we
will get to that and exactly what we will cover.
Because there are, of course, sources that the Agnes has also already
published that touched a bit upon it.
So if you are familiar with the
Dutch and Flemish catalogue,
that David De Witt had put together a few
years back, it has a brief introduction.
But it is really succinct in breaking down,
basically, the overview of, basically,
Dr. Alfred Bader as a collector and how he came to acquire a specific taste
for some of these works.
And that’s, as part of the same three-year
project, Danuta has been able to make
that very same catalogue available online. And so, I definitely encourage
everyone to take a closer look at that.
And then yes, I very much think that as we do
research for that, some of these other patterns
of collecting, and some of his
sort of curatorial practices, even of data will come to the fore.
And so, I do hope very much that we can
share some of those neat discoveries
with the general public in due time. I don’t know if you have
something to add to that, Danuta,
or should we move on to another question? >> No, you did. Nothing else said.
>> We have a question from Suzanne, who is the
Agnes’s new Bader curator for European art.
And she asked, she’s wondering if the
observations you were able to make due
to this type of data visualization and
mapping led you to any new research questions that you’re interested in exploring?
>> Yeah, I mean, I think the collection
is so rich that almost each artist,
in and of themselves, kind of, offer
basically research, sort of, questions and,
sort of, different venues to explore. So certainly, I can’t, kind of, exactly think
of one necessarily right off the top of my head.
But one thing that I’ve also noticed, that
perhaps I guess maybe this is an answer,
is that quite a few of the artists
that happened to be students of Rembrandt came from the city of Dordrecht.
And that was a pattern that
was really interesting to me.
And then, several of them also
then went back to Dordrecht after studying with Rembrandt in Amsterdam.
So, as far as I know, indicating
that, of course, those artists are from there
is part of the literature.
But I can’t seem to recall necessarily a very
focussed or detailed, sort of, description of,
kind of, Dordrecht, yeah, as a city, manufacturing some really
talented artists at the time.
So perhaps that could be one
path to really sort of explore.
And kind of along those lines, it is quite
an interesting fact that very recently,
so earlier this year, once again, David de
Witt, who we’ve now mentioned a few times,
actually published a monograph
on Abraham van Dijck,
which is one of the artists I quickly showcased
earlier by showcasing his The widow of Zarephath
and her Son image, if you can recall that. And so, yeah, I think essentially all artists
provide very interesting venues for us
to really explore both within the
Bader Collection and at the Agnes.
But then be part of a larger, kind of, international discussion
with other scholars as well.
Travelling to Other Cities
>> I wanted to highlight something
that’s going on in the comments, which is that Stephanie Dickey and
Danuta were discussing that if you’d
like to see the current exhibition on
display in the Bader Gallery at Agnes, it features works by several of these
artists that are in Rembrandt Circle.
And for those of you who aren’t in Kingston,
we had a question from Gerald earlier, which was how much or how often do
the works travel to other cities?
>> That’s a really good question. Prior to the pandemic, of course, there
would have been a higher take on that.
The answer is really dependant on
the specific artwork, of course, unless we have put together an exhibition
where many of these would feature.
And as recently as last year, so as
part of the 350th year anniversary
of celebrating Rembrandt’s passing away,
the Agnes put together an exhibition,
Leiden circa 1630, Rembrandt Emerges. And some of the very works
that are featured here
in this project form part of that exhibition. And that is an exhibition that, sort of,
went around, and is about to go around again
to a few other institutions in
Canada, there’s three other venues.
And so that’s a great example of how, if
there is an exhibition, and we can share it
with others, we are more than happy to do so. There’s also an artwork by Nicolaes Maes.
If I’m not mistaken definitely
forms part of this project.
And if I’m not mistaken, it is the most recent
work that we have lent out and that went
to the Mauritshuis in The Hague and then
actually moved on to England as well as part
of a retrospective show on
Nicolaes Maes specifically. And so, when they’re exhibitions
across the world, really,
for that matter where there is an interest
for particular artwork that we have,
I think The Agnes, you know, 99 percent of
the times will be willing to share that work.
Because of course it brings back as well,
sort of, it raises the profile of the Agnes.
So it’s, kind of, dependant
on subject of exhibitions.
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