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Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

National Gallery of Art, Washington

National Gallery of Art, Washington

Available online from
The National Gallery of Art.

Click on the thumbnails to view the screen captures.

[This review was contributed to The Artchive by Kathy Montgomery.]

In case you've been wanting to go to the National Gallery of Art but didn't want to spend the money for a plane ticket you can now view 1500 works from the collection for a mere $35.

The CD-ROM has an introduction to the NGA which not only contains its history, floor plan, and a series of "you are there" photos of various hallways, but also its construction via a series of still photographs. The rest of the CD is dedicated to "The Collection", broken into Subjects, Artists, Dictionary, Atlas and Time Line.

Works in the collection, which includes sculpture, coins and medals as well as paintings, can be retrieved in a variety of ways due to a well organized series of to view fullsized screen capture I can find Church's "Morning in the Tropics" by artist, timeline (1877), atlas (North America: America) or subject (The World: Nature:Jungle or Natural Phenomena:Morning).

If I am interested in what works the Gallery has by Ingres I can bring up "Artists", look under "I", find Ingres and bring up a short bio and thumbnails of his works contained in the collection. In case you want to impress your friends by being able to pronounce the name of Ingres, you can click on an audio icon at the top of the page and his name will obligingly be stated.

Clicking on a thumbnail image will bring up the painting along with any associated information about it. The information can range from the academic to the arcane. You can watch an animated "x-ray" scan of a painting showing the one underneath it, or learn that Rembrandt Peale added his brother's glasses to his portrait at a later time because Rubens, his brother, wasn't wearing them at the time of the sitting.

You can zoom in on paintings two different ways: by using the zoom icon which allows you to cycle through pre-defined sections of the painting,click to view fullsized screen capture or by moving the cursor to any part of the painting and clicking. This brings up a small area of the painting in great detail, which can then be scrolled. The surrounding area can be displayed by enlarging the window size. In some cases, this detail is such that you can see the actual brushstrokes.

Along the way, descriptions contain highlighted words that are hot linked to the dictionary. In case you've forgotten what "vanitas" refers to, a click will bring up its definition.

All in all, this is a class act. The works are easy to find, the access speed quick, the information concise but interesting, and the quality of the represented paintings is excellent.

- Kathy Montgomery

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