Italian and other European Art (Scala Archives)

Rosso Fiorentino (Giovanni Battista di Jacopo), Angel Playing a Lute, 1521, Galleria degli Uffizi. Image and original data provided by SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.;;; (c) 2006, SCALA, Florence/ART RESOURCE, N.Y.

Scala Archives is the largest fine art image archive in the world, comprising 150,000 transparencies for 80,000 different works in all media, from Ancient to Contemporary. The archive's large-format color transparencies (5” x 7” and 8” x 10”) are licensed for use in books, magazines, prints, television, film, and publicity. While the core collection is particularly strong in Italian art, coverage extends to major museums throughout Europe, the United States, Russia, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Scala was founded in 1953, on the initiative of the noted Italian art historian Roberto Longhi, at a time when color photography was becoming the preferred medium for recording works of art. In 1999, Scala became the European representative for several museums in the United States, along with its American agent, Art Resource. Art Resource, established in 1968, is the principal source of fine art images for commercial and scholarly publications in the United States. Art Resource also serves as the official rights and permissions representative for a wide range of museums and visual arts archives around the world.

The Scala Group, Art Resource, and Artstor are collaborating on a project to digitize and distribute approximately 13,000 high-quality digital images of Italian art and architecture through the Artstor Digital Library. Scala Archives' photographic holdings document the artistic heritage of Italy, with particular strengths in the art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance. Scholarly literature on these subjects has long been dependent on the archive, and its color photographs illustrate virtually every important monoxgraph on Italian architects, artists, and monuments, as well as textbooks and historical surveys of the art of Italy. Through this partnership, the Scala Group, Art Resource, and Artstor seek to make this important scholarly resource more broadly available for non-commercial, scholarly, and educational purposes, through the use of digital technologies. According to Dr. Theodore Feder, President of Art Resource, “We are delighted to be able to augment Artstor's offerings to its many subscribers in a field so essential to the study of art history and archaeology.”

This collection is in progress and initial releases have targeted the canonic works of Italian art and architecture that are most frequently consulted by Artstor users, as well as works in the collections of major museums in Italy and other European countries. As such, the Scala collection represents Artstor's ongoing commitment to improving the image quality of works already in the Digital Library. Many of these high-quality images have also been “clustered” with other Artstor images that depict the same work or offer details of the larger work. Through this clustering process, Artstor seeks to display preferred images of these frequently used works to users, while continuing to provide access to potentially useful duplicates and details. Over 13,000 Scala images are already available in Artstor, representing all aspects Italian art, with a special focus on painting, sculpture, and architecture.