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Towards an ontology-based iconography

Citation: Gartner, Richard (2019) Towards an ontology-based iconography. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities .


Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This article describes work undertaken at the Warburg Institute in London into the definition of machine-readable ontologies for the identification of iconographic subjects. Iconography, a descriptive discipline concerned with the identification of the content or subject of an image, is a core component of the wider discipline of iconology, the study of the meanings of images in their cultural or historical contexts. The research detailed here attempts to define the core of an ontology for the indicators of an iconographic subject that would be employed by an art historian in making an identification: these are encoded in OWL, the Web Ontology Language. The article demonstrates how such an ontology may be queried in XML format using simple XQUERY queries. Future directions for this research are discussed, including its possible integration with image recognition technologies to facilitate more automated approaches to iconographic identification.

Creators: Gartner, Richard (0000-0003-1422-4067) and
Official URL:
Subjects: Digital Humanities
Keywords: Iconography Ontologies Metadata
Divisions: Warburg Institute
  • 12 February 2019 (published)
  • 31 January 2019 (accepted)


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