Long-time users of Artstor may have noticed that the Digital Library holds a number of redundant images. Some come directly from the source collections or are the result of different collections that document the same works of art, while others are details. We often cluster these images, which can be revealed by clicking on the clustered images icon () below the thumbnails. Why not simply delete them? We’re glad you asked.
One benefit of clustered images is that those redundant images can hold valuable historical information. For example, in Sassetta’s Madonna of the Snow (above), you can see the significant degradation of the lower panels over time when you compare a new photograph from Scala Archives with an archival image from the Foto Reali Archive.
Then there are the details. In an elaborate work such as Nicholas of Verdun’s Klosterneuburg Altar, zooming in on the overview image only gives you an approximate idea of its exquisite craftsmanship. But click on the clustered images icon and you’ll find 59 close-ups from Erich Lessing Culture and Fine Arts Archives crisply depicting Verdun’s masterful handling of enamels – and even a close look at the screws holding the panels in place (if that’s your kind of thing).
Next time you run into clustered images, take a peek. You might be surprised at what you find.