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Iconclass translation to Portuguese

Starting date: 2012
Finishing date: 2014

The Iconclass translation to Portuguese is being held by a working group of Rede Temática em Estudos de Azulejaria e Cerâmica João Miguel dos Santos Simões (João Miguel dos Santos Simões Thematic Network on the Study of Tiles and Ceramics), in collaboration with the current Iconclass managers Hans Brandhorst and Etienne Posthumus. It is expected that in 2014 a part of this work will be available in the Iconclass browser and accessible to queries related to ceramic tiles in Az Infinitum - Azulejo Indexing and Reference System.

Iconclass is a classification system designed for art and iconography. It is the most widely accepted scientific tool for the description and retrieval of subjects represented in images (works of art, book illustrations, reproductions, photographs, etc.), used by museums and art institutions around the world.

Also, Iconclass is a subject-specific classification system. It is a hierarchically ordered collection of definitions of objects, people, events and abstract ideas that serve as the subject of an image. Art historians, researchers and curators use it to describe, classify and examine the subject of images represented in various media such as paintings, drawings and photographs.

The purpose of the Iconclass system is simple: it is an instrument for the arrangement of a collection of documents by subject matter. It puts related themes and subjects in a helpful order, according to a carefully constructed scheme of divisions and subdivisions. This means that, for example, Father Time will be filed as a specific example of the allegories of Time and Eternity and that parrots, ducks, finches, partridges and owls will all be grouped together as specific cases of birds.

When you apply Iconclass to pictures of biblical or mythological stories, they will be grouped in a self-evident way: the beheading of John the Baptist will be automatically stored as part of the story of the Baptist, the scene of Aeneas carrying his father from burning Troy will be recognized as an element of the story of Aeneas' wanderings, and the miracle of the manna will be automatically seen as an event from the book of Exodus.

Numerous institutions across the world use Iconclass to describe and classify their collections in a standardized manner. In turn, users ranging from art historians to museum visitors use Iconclass to search and retrieve images from these collections. And as a research tool, Iconclass is also used to identify the significance of entire scenes or individual elements represented within an image. Iconclass applications used around the world have made it the most widely accepted classification system for visual documents.

The three main components of Iconclass are:
- Classification System: 28,000 hierarchically ordered definitions divided into ten main divisions. Each definition consists of an alphanumeric classification code (notation) and the description of the iconographic subject (textual correlate). The definitions are used to index, catalogue and describe the subjects of images represented in works of art, reproductions, photographs and other sources.
- Alphabetical Index: 14,000 keywords used for locating the notation and its textual correlate needed to describe and/or index an image.
- Bibliography: 40,000 references to books and articles of iconographical interest (not yet online).

Currently, Iconclass management is supported by RKD (Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie / Netherlands Institute for Art History).

History of Iconclass


Working group for translation:
Rosário Salema de Carvalho *
Alexandre Pais **
Ana Almeida *
Inês Aguiar **, *
Isabel Pires *
Lúcia Marinho *
Patrícia Nóbrega*

* Rede Temática em Estudos de Azulejaria e Cerâmica João Miguel dos Santos Simões / IHA-FLUL
** Museu Nacional do Azulejo

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