Introducing Fingerprint


Pieter Bruegel, Justitia, S II 133 707 (detail), 1559, 224 x 295 mm, KBR Print Room, Brussels, Imaging with Multi-Spectral Microdome (RICH)

FINGERPRINT is an interdisciplinary collection and data management project, involving art history, art technical research, digital imaging, image processing and conservation science. The aim is to use advanced digital imaging, statistical processing and laboratory analyses to monitor and evaluate the phases of the genesis of a print, from preparatory drawings through proof impressions to later states and editions. The four year project (2016-2020) is a collaboration of the Print Room of the Royal Library of Belgium and three KU Leuven teams: the Imaging Lab, ESAT and Illuminare, Centre for the Study of Medieval Art. The research project is funded by Belspo BRAIN-be (Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary Networks). The Royal Institute of Cultural Heritage (KIKIRPA), Brussels and the international research project on the materials and techniques of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (KHM, Vienna) are main research partners.

Up to now art historical research on prints and drawings has depended for the most part on traditional art historical methods based on observation with the naked eye and on the subjective memory and knowledge of connoisseurs. The aim of this project is to develop tools to automatically perform an objective artefact analysis and software to visualize, compare and order large quantities of complex visual and material data. Special processing algorithms will be developed to analyse visual data.

The exceptional collection of graphic works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1520-1569) in the Royal Library of Belgium forms a test corpus for the FINGERPRINT project. The tools and methods developed to gather and process the data will be designed to answer specific questions related not only to collection management, technical art history and conservation science but also to the production, distribution and consumption history of this body of works by Bruegel.

The datasets created on the multiple research platforms of FINGERPRINT and the resulting new interpretations will be accessible to both the scholarly community and the general public through links to the descriptions of the artifacts in the online public access database.