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Berenson Semantic Database


  • The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies


On-going since 2020


Bernard Berenson’s Drawings of the Florentine Painters is a digital resource based on Berenson’s publication of the same name. This research tool permits searches for any of the drawings listed in the three editions (1903, 1938 in English; 1961, in Italian). The already existing database is transformed to a semantic knowledge base with functionalities such as a) browsing and searching by artist and title (as provided by Berenson, in English or Italian), location and technique, b) visualization of key information from all three editions of Berenson’s text, as well as the current location, an image of the catalog page, and plates included in 1903 and from the British Museum, c) enriching information for entries like drawings by Sandro Botticelli and Filippino Lippi (and their schools).


  • Data Transformation & Importing of the content of Berenson’s publications into a Linked Open dataset
  • Data Mappings & URI generation
  • Graphical User Interface implementation
  • Updating Information & Illustrations through interlinking with online museum catalogs
  • Data Visualization


  • This is the first online database to include a large corpus of Italian Renaissance drawings from different collections. Berenson cataloged roughly 4000 sheets by painters active in Florence from 14th through the mid-16th century; these are mainly figure drawings, from Taddeo Gaddi through Michelangelo. For the first time, a scholar had brought together essential information about drawings found in all known collections, public and private, and made them accessible in a single catalog. In contrast to a traditional database, where all data remain on the host’s website, the linked catalog allows researchers to have direct access to the data through open data services like a SPARQL endpoint and a data dump.


  • First version published