Posted on Friday June 5, 2015

A Holiday in Wales?

Europeana has a wealth of content available to researchers, both through its portal and its APIs. Europeana Research highlights this content and its research potential.

By Owain Roberts, Research Associate in Digital Collections at National Library of Wales

Collection Title: Drawings and sketches from the National Library of Wales
Source: National Library of Wales
Licence for metadata: CC0
Licence for Content: CC BY-SA
Data Format: Image
Metadata Format: EDM (Europeana Data Model)
How Accessed: Europeana Portal, API console

All of us enjoy some time off to go on holiday every now and again don’t we? Nowadays, smartphones allows us to photograph every step of the way and share them instantly with friends around the world. But before smartphones you had to remember to pack your camera otherwise you’d have no record of the sights and sounds that you experienced.

Sketches in England, Scotland and Wales, Alfred W. Williams, National Library of Wales, CC BY SA.

But how did people do it before they had cameras? They drew sketches. The National Library of Wales has contributed a collection of drawing volumes to Europeana, which includes around 600 items. This collection contains a wide variety of material, from the amateur sketches of wealthy travellers to the field sketchbooks of professional artists which a user can share and adapt for any purpose (CC-BY-SA licensing rights).

The collection covers the period from the 18th century to the 20th century but the bulk of the Library's collection dates from the 19th century. Amongst the 18th century volumes the most important are the work of Alexander Cozens (1717-1786) and his son John Robert (1752-1797), P. J. de Loutherbourg (1748-1812), Moses Griffith (1749-1819), and Thomas Jones, Pencerrig (1742-1803).

The volumes are mainly filled with landscapes of Wales, many following a particular topographical route. It became fashionable for tourists to illustrate their tours with their own sketches and so the collection contains volumes of such sketches. The works of John Parker (1798-1860) and Edward Pryce Owen (1788-1863) are very good examples of this.

Sketchbook of views, figures and fishing, Calvert Richard Jones, National Library of Wales, CC BY SA.

Not only visually very beautiful, the collection provides a rich resource for art historians interested in British traditions of landscape painting, and the depiction of natural space. Researchers with an interest in the history of tourism and the evolution of the Grand Tour can also discover items relating to a number of popular destinations including Venice, the Riviera and Switzerland.

Apps that could be used with this collection:

  • Neatline – for displaying the items in a timeline and spatially (possibly tracking the topographical route)
  • Digital Storytelling Prototype – to narrate one of the topographical routes taken