Behind the Scenes, Getty Research Institute

What Is 砂金石? The Art & Architecture Thesaurus Publishes Chinese Terms

The big news in the Getty Vocabulary Program is that around 3,150 records in the Art & Architecture Thesaurus with one or more Chinese-language equivalent terms, plus descriptive notes and bibliographic citations in Chinese, are now published online. The Art & Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), available free online, is a standard reference of over 250,000 terms for art, architecture, and conservation.

Necklace with aventurine

Necklace featuring 砂金石 (shā jīn shí), also known as venturina and aventurien

The ongoing full translation of around 35,000 AAT records into Chinese is being undertaken by the Taiwan E-Learning & Digital Archives Program (Academia Sinica in Nankang, Taiwan) in close consultation with the Vocabulary Program editors. We are very grateful to the contributors and their translators, the Vocabulary editors, and as always to our colleagues in Information Technology Services for their tireless work in developing systems to load and edit contributed data.

The Chinese terms are the most recent addition to the ever-growing multilinguality of the Getty Vocabularies, developed in partnership with many contributors around the world. For example, existing and evolving translations of the AAT in Spanish and Dutch have already been done by the Centro de Documentación de Bienes Patrimoniales (Dirección de Bibliotecas, Archivos y Museos in Santiago, Chile) and the Bureau AAT, RKD (Netherlands Institute for Art History in The Hague, The Netherlands). Partial translations in Italian and French are completed; translations in German and other languages are anticipated. Our other vocabularies, the Union List of Artists Names (ULAN), the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and the Cultural Objects Name Authority are also multilingual, and they include historical names too.

Especially given the challenges of differing traditions and cultures, scripts and writing methods, this first set of translations in Chinese is a particularly gratifying accomplishment. The issues surrounding the gathering, processing, and editing of terms in various languages from many contributors makes work in the Vocabulary Program always interesting. It is satisfying to know that these terms are used worldwide to aid in the cataloging and retrieval of information about art, architecture, and conservation.

Art and Architecture Thesaurus page for aventurine, with terms in Chinese, Dutch, and Spanish

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      #ProvenancePeek: July 31

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This small panel by Dutch master Gerrit Dou (photographed only in black and white) is now in the collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. It was sold to American collector Robert Sterling Clark, an heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune, in the summer of 1922.

      How do we know this? Archival sleuthing! A peek into the handwritten stock books of M. Knoedler & Co. (book 7, page 10, row 40, to be exact) records the Dou in “July 1922” (right page, margin). Turning to the sales books, which lists dates and prices, we again find the painting under the heading “New York July 1922,” with its inventory number 14892. A tiny “31” in superscript above Clark’s name indicates the date the sale was recorded.

      M. Knoedler was one of the most influential dealers in the history of art, selling European paintings to collectors whose collections formed the genesis of great U.S. museums. The Knoedler stock books have recently been digitized and transformed into a searchable database, which anyone can query for free.

      Girl at a Window, 1623–75, Gerrit Dou. Oil on panel, 10 9/16 x 7 ½ in. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.


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