Iconclass

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Iconclass is a specialized library classification designed for art and iconography. It was originally conceived by Henri van de Waal, and was further developed by a group of scholars after his death.

The Iconclass system is probably the largest classification system for cultural content. Initially designed for historical imagery, it is now also used to create subject access to texts and to classify a wide range of images, including modern photography. At the moment it contains over 28,000 unique concepts (classification types) and has an entry vocabulary of 14,000 keywords. It can be consulted with the help of the freely available Iconclass 2100 browser. Iconclass was developed in the Netherlands as a standard classification for recording collections, with the idea of assembling huge databases that will allow the retrieval of images featuring particular details, subjects or other common factors. For example, the Iconclass code "71H7131" is for the subject of "Bathsheba (alone) with David's letter", whereas "71" is the whole "Old Testament" and "71H" the "story of David". A number of collections of different types have been classified using Iconclass, notably many types of old master print, the collections of the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin and the German Marburger Index. These are available, usually on-line or on DVD.[1][2] The system can also be used outside pure art history, for example on sites like Flickr.[3][broken citation]

The content of Iconclass is currently maintained by the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (Netherlands Institute for Art History). The online Iconclass browser is developed by the Henri van de Waal Foundation.

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