Robert Streater: Daniel in the lion's den, after Rubens. c.1650-80These notes supplement the About section, particularly Database—where users will find information about the way in which prints are grouped and the content of the various fields under each record—and Subject index, which gives a list of the main headings within the subject thesaurus.

The search mechanism

On the database screen, users are offered five general categories that can be searched: Producer, Person Shown, Subject, Date, and Technique. Searches of single terms or names within these categories is achieved by selecting the category, then selecting the required term or name. Results with thumbnails will then display in the Matching Records frame, and by clicking on one of these results a full record will appear in the Image Record Display frame.

It is also possible to conduct more complex searches by combining search terms. This is achieved by selecting a first term or name within an inquiry (as above, with simple searching), marking this as ‘Hold’ in the Category box, then making further selections from any of the categories. At each stage in such inquiries, available searches are automatically limited by available results. A term can be removed from the search by clicking ‘Close’ in the Category box. For example, to search for mezzotints featuring both Charles I and Charles II, first select Charles I from the Person Shown category and mark as ‘Hold’; next select Charles II from the ‘Add another Person Shown’ category and mark that as ‘Hold’; finally select mezzotint from the Technique category.

The search options are as follows:

  • Producer. These can be found either by browsing using the alphabet, or by entering a name in the text box and selecting from the drop down menu of available names. Producer includes all those involved in the production process of a print, including those responsible for its publication as well as its execution. For a search of producers as a whole, an alphabetical list is available. This can be delimited by using the drop down menu to (say) publishers, engravers (to avoid confusion, here the term ‘print made by’ is used to cover all types of graphic artists) or artists and designers (here referred to in the form ‘after’). Dates of birth and death (where known) are provided as an aid to identification.
  • Persons Shown. As with Producer, these can be found either by browsing using the alphabet, or by entering a name in the text box and selecting from the drop down menu of available names. Persons Shown is essentially an index of ‘sitters’ in portraits, but we have deliberately given it a broader title to include others who may be depicted in or associated with the print. There are no subdivisions in this category; however, once a person has been selected, it is possible to hold this and add another. Dates of birth and death (where known) are provided as an aid to identification.
  • Subject. This can be used in various ways. One of the main headings of the subject thesaurus may be selected (to view these, click here). They may then be further divided by clicking on the cross adjacent to it, while subsidiary categories may be similarly subdivided by clicking on the cross. At each point, the number of relevant items is shown: this is a cumulative figure of all prints further down the hierarchy that are classified within the overall topic selected. Alternatively, users may find topics typing them into the text box and clicking on ‘Go’.
  • Place. Places may be searched for as part of the subject index. They are arranged hierarchically, and larger areas (e.g. Europe) may be subdivided by clicking on the cross adjacent to them, while subsidiary locations may be similarly subdivided.
  • Date. Prints from a specific period or date can be selected by scrolling the toolbar provided to indicate the earliest and latest dates required.
  • Technique. A drop-down menu is provided from which the required printmaking technique can be selected.

Records for prints

Users should be aware of the following aspects of the information provided:

  • Dimensions are of the maximum height and width of the plate mark unless otherwise noted; the height precedes the width.
  • bpi number. Every impression, with its image and data, has a unique bpi number in the database (the number itself is essentially arbitrary). Note that, for the time being, the bpi number for the print record is almost always the same as that for the preferred impression. (For further information on the relationship between print records and impressions, click here.) The preferred impression is identified under the Impressions tab with an asterisk.
  • Image. Each print record presents a preferred image (usually the first published state of a print). To view images in detail, under the Image tab click either ‘View Zoomable Image’ or the image itself, or click one of the thumbnails under the Impressions tab—in each case a new window will open with a zoomable image. The zoomable version is manipulated by clicking on the symbols that appear at the base of the image, the plus sign to increase the size, the minus sign to reduce it, and the arrows to move to and fro. The circle-with-arrow symbol restores the original image and the hand symbol opens up a thumbnail showing the area of the whole that is being viewed.
  • Description contains a brief description of the print, inscriptions on it, and its dimensions. It also notes series to which the print belongs.
  • Production contains information about who made and published the print, the date and place of production, and, wherever possible, full information concerning the production history of the print with an outline of the various states a print may have gone through. The term ‘print made by’ is here used to cover all types of graphic artists; the artists and designers of the original from which the print was made are referred to in the form ‘after’. Places of production are stated hierarchically; school is a general indication of the country to which the print can be assigned, usually based both on where the print was produced and the nationality of the printmaker.
  • Comment contains any further information, sometimes in the form of a cross-reference to another print by bpi number. Bibliographical references comprise the author’s name of the work referred to or an abbreviated form of the title, together with a number which usually denotes entry. In the case of Hollstein and Johnson, the numbers refer to entries for the artist in question. In the case of Hind, references are by volume, page and reference number.
  • Subjects includes associated places, names and titles of books.
  • Impressions presents the user with a complete set of impressions as thumbnails accompanied by bpi number. Clicking on the bpi number, reveals full detail about the individual impression’ clicking on the image opens up a zoomable version.

Problems and queries about using the database should be sent to: stephenpigney [at]