Report on findings for 'Validating portrait-sitting ontology requirements through interviews with art historians'
This activity is part of a wider project, entitled ‘Collecting and connecting portrait sittings: a re-evaluation of portrait-sitting accounts in enhancing knowledge and understanding of British portraiture 1900-1960’.
The portrait sitting is an interaction between artist and sitter, from which portraits are produced. Textual accounts of sittings give useful insight into the negotiations between participants and the circumstances of portrait production. Yet the accounts have limitations: they are constructed, conventional and often incomplete. My question is: How can digital methods be used to understand and represent the portrait-sitting - a historical event, known to us through evidence - as a useable research object for art historians? The purpose of my interviews is to define a useable research object for art historians: to validate my understanding of why portrait-sitting accounts are useful, what makes them useful and what limits their use. I do this by consulting domain experts: art historians, specifically historians of portraiture, who are the intended users of this material. The output is a portrait-sitting ontology: a theory of knowledge about the sitting and blueprint for modelling sittings as research objects.