Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art

Nicole Elizabeth Cook, Program Manager for Graduate Academic Partnerships
Philadelphia Museum of Art

IIIF multi-mode viewer in ”Rubens’ Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” Journal for Historians of Netherlandish Art Vol 11:2 (Summer 2019). This view shows, clockwise from top left, visible, x-radiograph, and false-color infrared reflectogram (“IRR”) views of the painting, which users can manipulate with their cursor.

Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art (JHNA), launched in 2009, is the open-access digital journal of the professional organization Historians of Netherlandish Art (HNA). Over the past decade, JHNA has become a reliable, streamlined, and technologically savvy resource for art historical writing related to the Low Countries in the early modern era, roughly corresponding with the geographic boundaries of modern day Holland and Belgium. The journal publishes new academic essays and republishes older articles newly translated into English.

JHNA has always had a forward-thinking focus on art historical essays that attempt to incorporate digital imaging technology in new ways. The journal was helmed by Dr. Alison M. Kettering from its formation until last year when Dr. H. Perry Chapman took on the role of Editor-in-Chief. While some articles cover more cross-disciplinary topics, the specialized content of JHNA essays is primarily oriented toward scholars focused on Dutch, Flemish, German, and Franco-Flemish art history and material culture from the Medieval era through the eighteenth century, with consistent focuses on attribution and artists’ biographical information, stylistic analysis, and examination of the cultural and social contexts of works of art. Some articles are of interest for museum curators, art conservators, and library & archive professionals whose work intersects with early modern Netherlandish materials. The journal is at its best when it takes advantage of its digital format to advance innovative image viewing modes to highlight technical and conservation-focused art historical inquiries. 

The online resource is open access and freely available online without paywall barriers, and without the need to create any accounts. The design of the website is visually appealing, and image driven, without being over-designed. Users can navigate easily between present and past issues, and straightforward to find information about the journal’s editorial board and submission guidelines. Because there are no logins involved, there is no opportunity for customized resources, although there are choices that the user can make with how to view and interact with the images illustrations that feature centrally in each essay. The journal’s digital platform allows a robust use of images far beyond what would be available in a printed format, including side-by-side image comparison, ability to zoom in and out of images, and image overlay technology.

Recently JHNA received funding from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Association of Research Institutes in Art History (ARIAH) to support development of enhanced image viewing and navigation tools, including a specialized side-by-side viewer and an “IIIF multi-mode viewer” that allows users to study a work of art up to a microscopic level using a range of technical images and paint samples. The journal targeted its development of these digital image resources for a special issue devoted to ”Rubens’ Invention and Evolution: Material Evidence in The Fall of Phaeton,” with authors E. Melanie Gifford and Jennifer Henel (Volume 11: Issue 2, Summer 2019). Gifford’s pioneering work in using microscopic analysis of painting materials to address art historical questions makes her a natural partner for JHNA and its image-rich focus. The research work of JHNA users will benefit from the journal’s continuing experimentation with using new imaging technologies to enhance art historical enquiry.