The Online Catalogue of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy


The Seattle Art Museum is proud to be a participant in the Getty Foundation’s Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative project. SAM’s site, The Online Catalogue of Chinese Painting & Calligraphy, officially launched at the end of September, 2013. As the first scholarly examination of SAM’s collection of 152 Chinese paintings and calligraphy, the catalogue makes this collection and information about it universally accessible. It features 18 thoughtful and provocative essays by respected scholars, and thorough documentation—including transcriptions and translations of inscriptions and colophons, and seals which are transcribed, identified and located. The exploratory, online aspects of the catalogue remedy a shortcoming of many Chinese painting and calligraphy catalogues which all too frequently provide incomplete documentation or ignore it completely.

The catalogue facilitates scholarly dialogue between online visitors by enabling them to:
• study detailed images of artworks online using zooming tools for remarkable detail
• draw a GeoTag and attach a comment to it
• browse by artist, dynasty, region, and essay author
• explore scholarly essays while viewing the art
• write and share notes on objects, essays, inscriptions
• respond to questions posed for discussion by the catalogue authors
• create “My Collections” of objects in the catalogue

In terms of technology, the catalogue is innovative because it uses the popular museum collection database system, TMS, as the basis for the content offered in the catalogue. Information from TMS can be transported directly into the online catalogue, a very attractive feature. The open-ended nature of the online catalogue represents a significant departure from the standard printed catalogue in that it is a flexible document that will continue to evolve as the museum’s collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy grows.