What is the Census Database?

Primarily, the Census database reconstructs relationships between Antique Monuments and Postclassical Works. For example, the Census links the antique statue of the Apollo Belvedere now in the Vatican Museums with prints, statuettes, texts and drawings created in the postclassical era that reference or respond to this statue. Thousands of similar relationships are mapped by the Census dataset, shedding light on the reception of antique material culture as well as a history of the postclassical survival of antique ruins and remains.

The Census project was founded over seventy-five years ago primarily as a means of cataloguing which ancient monuments were known, and in what state of preservation, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Decades of research has created a vast body of knowledge about the location, state of preservation and artistic reception of antique objects and buildings visible in the Renaissance.

Over the years interest in classical reception across a number of academic disciplines has opened up new perspectives on the representation of and response to antiquity in the Early Modern era. As this research expands, the Census database remains a precious resource that extends beyond its original aims. By tracing relationships between Postclassical Works and Antique Monuments and contextualising these relationships with images, bibliography, and other metadata, the database offers a road map to the legacy of antiquity in the Early Modern era. It provides access to a material context of antique reception which now largely been lost through urban development, the dispersal of private collections and the movement of objects into modern-day museums.

The core strengths of the Census database are:

  • Its large collection of images of Antique Monuments and Renaissance works of art, particularly images of Renaissance drawings and sketchbooks.

  • Its unique specialisation in tracing the relationships between Antique Monuments and drawings, prints, and texts created between 1400-1600.

  • The long history of the Census project, which has grown continually for over 75 years and benefitted from close collaboration with international institutions (the Getty, the Warburg Institute, New York University, the Humboldt-UniversitΓ€t zu Berlin, and the Hertziana).

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