The bpi1700 database has a different structure from most other electronic catalogues of printed images. The majority of available online resources take the form of inventory catalogues of individual collections, one of the aims of which is to itemize and manage holdings within the collection. Each object in such collections has its own record. Although bpi1700 has taken a large proportion of its current data from Merlin, the British Museum’s electronic catalogue, it was decided, as this is a resource which is not linked to a particular collection, to organize this data in a different way. In particular it was felt that one disadvantage of the inventory catalogue is that, since prints by their nature typically exist in multiple impressions and states, such a catalogue often contains many essentially similar records of the same print: in an online database such multiple records are of questionable value to users and risk causing confusion. Instead, the bpi1700 database is modelled on the organization of the printed catalogue raisonné, the comprehensive and authoritative catalogue of the output of individual artists, printmakers or publishers. A key concern of catalogues raisonnés of printmakers has been to identify the various states and impressions of each print. An example of such a catalogue raisonné record is the following entry (number 221) in the National Portrait Gallery’s ‘Catalogue of the portrait mezzotints by and published by John Smith’, in which four different states and several impressions are grouped together within a single record:

Lucy Manners (née Sherard), Duchess of Rutland

By and published by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt


13 1/4 in. x 9 3/4 in. (335 mm x 247 mm) plate size


Lettered The Hon:ble Sherard.

Below left G. Kneller Eques pinx:

Below right I. Smith fec: et ex:

I Unlettered and unfinished proof. Before the landscape background and outcropping rock established on left side. Margin not yet established below.

London (BM, 1902-10-11-4817).

II As described. With single flower in left hand.

London (BM, 1902-10-11-4818, and large Smith vol. II, p. 40, margins, good), London (NPG, D11621), London (UCL, Strang G2080, good margins), New York (NYPL, vol. 1, fol. 148, dated 1699).

III Reworked: additional flower at right angles to thumb on upper part of plant in left hand.

Amsterdam (RM, RP-P-OB-32-837), Eton (CL, Storer Granger, Period VI, classes LX, opp. fol. 135), Glasgow (HAG, GLAHA 16300), London (BM, 1902-10-11-4819, margins and 1855-5-12-66, Portraits), Oxford (Christ Church, Smith vol. I, fol. 101), Paris (BN, Ec. 84, fol. 37, dark impression, cut, and Cd. 12 cc, fol. 31, cut), Plymouth (CAG, COP17, f. 43, cut), Windsor (RL, RCIN 661539).

IV Posthumously published.

  First state

First state

  Second state

Second state

  Third state

Third state

In a similar way, the bpi1700 database groups different states and impressions within a single record for a print: the database makes a distinction between ‘print’ records which consist of these groupings and ‘impression’ records for individual impressions of each print. The primary records visible on the database are the ‘print’ records. Each print record presents a preferred image (usually the first published state of a print), a brief label consisting of engraver, short description and date of production, and five tabs: ‘Description’, containing a brief description of the print, inscriptions on the print, and its dimensions; ‘Production’, containing information about who made and published the print, the date and place of production, and, wherever possible, full information concerning the production history of the print outlining the various states a print may have gone through; ‘Subjects’, containing a list of subject headings that have been used to classify and index the print; ‘Comment’, containing any further information, commentary, or research on the print, as well as bibliographic information; and ‘Impressions’, a list of the various impressions of the print contained on the database, with images, information about each individual impression, and, where relevant, the state to which the impression belongs.