Historic Map Compiling Project – Le Plan Scénographique de Lyon

January 7, 2014 2 comments

ProjectOverviewGIF
Click to view a high-resolution 3D (bird’s-flight) video tour of the full map
In January 2014 I digitized photographs of the 25 separate sheets that together make up “Le Plan Scénographique de Lyon vers 1550,” a huge, highly-detailed, 16th-Century axonometric (bird’s-flight view) map of the French city of Lyon (cc. 1544-53 CE). Since then I’ve been working to understand and contextualize this curious historical artifact, and this evolving piece is one product of that effort.

The Archives municipales de Lyon holds the only known copy of the 1540s Plan Scéno (as I’ll call it here). In 1989 preservationist and paper expert Michel Guet restored the map. This involved detaching the 25 sheets from their paper backing and each other as well as removing the remnants of earlier flawed restoration efforts. In 1990 the Lyon Archives published photographs of the 25 restored map sheets along with an accompanying volume of scholarly essays (later augmented with a second set of essays). All of the essays from the project are now freely accessible on the Lyon Archives’ website.

The map segments are to be arranged for viewing in a 5 by 5 grid starting from the top left, each segment being overlapped by the segments to the right and below it. Because each segment of the published map is larger than the flatbed scanner I used, I originally scanned each segment in two parts at 600 ppi, combined them, and then reconstituted the full map using Adobe Photoshop (info tooltip | link).

Viewing the map’s 25 segments individually, it is very difficult to effectively view or even fully conceptualize the map in its totality, as a single composition. To redress this I determined to compile the 25 map segments into one contiguous digital image. I should note that significant image adjustment (aka warping) was required in some areas to insure that the segments line up logically and so the final product would appear seamless. You’ll notice that the bottom-right cartouche is lower than the one on the lower left – this is probably not a characteristic inherent in the original, but likely occurred because I compiled each row of sheets starting from the top-left, following the original numbering of the 25 sheets.

For modern viewers, the faux-aerial perspective used for pre-modern axonometric city maps is strikingly similar to the satellite-derived views provided by modern online map services (though the top of the the 1540s Plan Scénographique is mostly directed west-southwest, not north). For comparison, below is a high-contrast screenshot of Bing maps’ “Bird’s Eye view” of modern-day Lyon (facing west) compiled from multiple aerial photographs taken at an oblique 45-degree angle (click image to to explore in Bing Maps).
binglyon2_05-20-14

Note that the modern shape of Lyon is significantly different from that shown in the 1540s Plan Scénographique. This is primarily because of the largely-industrial Perrache neighborhood, extending South (left) of the highway in the modern center of the Presqu’île (peninsula), which did not exist in the 16th century. Perrache was developed from 1779-1840, incorporating southern marshland and small islands into the peninsula and moving the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers further downstream (source). In the sixteenth century, these low-lying islands were repeatedly flooded, destroyed, and rebuilt by the rivers. Only the edge of the area now covered by Perache is shown on the 1540s Plan Scéno, an island labelled “[BRO]TEAUX D’ENEY” in reference to the nearby Abbaye d’Ainay. I haven’t attempted to recreate how Broteau D’Ainay might have looked in 1548, but it can be seen on Philippe Le Beau’s 1607 Lyon map (optimized detail view with label indicated). Source: archives municipales de Lyon.

The animated map above is an augmented “mashup” incorporating three sources –

  • A blueprint of Lyon in 1544 (identified as a/the main year during which the Plan Scénographique’s survey drawings were made) adapted from a Flash presentation accompanying the Lyon Archives’ 2009 exhibit Lyon 1562: Capitale Protestante (B. Gauthiez) superimposed on
  • Geoportail‘s amazing elevation map (“Carte du Relief” layer), facing west and extended North and South, and
  • a satellite image exported from Google Earth Pro.

For more on Perrache and the confluence, see Le paysage du quartier ‘Confluence’ à Lyon: deux siècles et demi de projets et de recomposition (B. Gauthiez) pp. 34-45, Le paysage fluvial urbain in Bibliothèque numérique de l’Institut National du Patrimoine (INP) n° 17, 2010.

Another observation about the above GIF – I originally labeled the neighborhood (quartier) around Le Couvent l’Observance “Vaise.” Vaise is actually the name of the faubourg (suburb) located on the plain north of l’Observance and west of the Saône river, outside Lyon’s city gates, and mostly farmland in 1550. The area around l’Observance could more accurately be called “Le clos des Deux-Amants” after a Roman-era funeral monument, shown on the Plan and already ancient in the 16th Century. (source: Les Cordeliers de l’Observance á Lyon, par L.A.A. Pavy et [C.] Tissseur, 1836, pp.6-11).

Click here to see the area on the digital map (top half of sheet 10), and from there you can switch to the 1698 and 1876 derivative maps (select from lower-left pulldown menu) to see how the now-missing part of the 1540s Plan Sceno showing part of Vaise. LeBeau’s 1607 map shows more of the faubourg (50 years later):veyz_lebeau1607

“Why not georectify the  Plan Scéno , since we know where most of the represented landmarks were located, maybe even all of them?” Because the map is far from spatially accurate. The area of the W-SW-facing map overall appears to be significantly stretched N-S (the X-Axis) compared to the real-world dimensions. This uneven stretching is most notable in the bends of the Saône river as it rounds the central hill Fourvière, which are far less sharp than in the real world. This may have been deliberate artistic license rather than a mistake, as the elongation allows the cartographer more left-right room to include location-based labels and imagery, particularly along the densely-populated banks of the Saône. While I do believe that the 1540s Plan Scéno de Lyon achieves verisimilitude as a portrait of the city (maintains the appearance of spatial accuracy), both its scale and compass directionality are wildly inconsistent.

Geographer and urbanist Bernard Gauthiez, the de facto topographical biographer of Lyon for the past twenty years, expressed it to me thus:

“Georectify[ing] the 1544 plan [is] like mapping the Near East from the Bible… Several scales are used, and it has not been drawn from a measured survey. See my paper on it.”

Professor Gauthiez’ work on Lyon (along with the Archives Municipales’ 1990 publication) is the authoritative modern source for most of the ideas I am exploring regarding the topography and urban development of pre-modern Lyon. The written part of this Lyon project documents a new media technologist’s (my) second-hand efforts to understand, consolidate, visualize and popularize ideas that have already been developed and explored by expert scholars utilizing primary source materials. Much of that material is held in archival repositories, has not been digitized, and might only be comprehensible to experts regardless.

The making of Le Plan Scénographique de Lyon c.1544-1550

One of the intriguing aspects of the 1540s Plan Scéno is that the 25 segments were printed using negatively-etched (Intaglio) copper plates, and those etchings were themselves compositions based on original survey drawings. Therefore in essence the 25 map sheets are copies created through a process of mechanical reproduction. None of the original survey drawings or the engravings exist today and while it is conceivable that other copies of the map were printed, this is the only known copy.

S’agissant d’un plan gravé, autrement dit le produit d’un procédé de reproduction mécanique qui n’a d’autre raison que la multiplication d’un original, on devrait le regarder comme un exemplaire parmi d’autres. Pas plus, cependant, que l’original dessiné, aucun autre exemplaire de ce qui a été (ou aurait dû être, on ne sait) une série limitée, ne nous est parvenu. Dans pareil cas, l’exemplaire unique ou unicum prend la valeur que devrait avoir son prototype manuscrit disparu.
[Floatover shows English translation]

Jeanne-Marie Dureau, Archiviste de la Ville de Lyon,
Introduction to Le Plan de Lyon Vers 1550 (1990)

The sheets were printed on “laid paper,” made by pouring paper pulp (made from linen or cotton) into a wire frame. The Lyon Archives have identified the paper manufacturer’s shaped-wire watermark on some sheets, representing a bunch of grapes.

Attribution and Dating of the Map

The 1540s Lyon plan is undated and unsigned, but researchers have determined that the map was most likely created within the 8-year period between late 1544 and Spring 1553. It is likely that the principle survey drawings were created in 1544 (Gauthiez, 2010).
Here’s some date evidence provided that I was able to verify:

  • In the top right of the map (leaves 4 and 5) workers are depicted building a new fortification, “c’est le boulevard de la Pye ou citadelle.” (Grisard 1891, p.31) Bernard Gauthiez estimates that the map represents the progress of work on the new walls in approximately 1545.
  • On leaf 6 is depicted a “jeu de paume” (early indoor tennis) court decorated with Henri II’s crescent symbol and depicting 4 figures playing with rackets. This suggests that the map was worked on shortly before the Royal entry in September 1548. According to Oxford scholar Richard Cooper, “late in June the order was given by Jean de Saint-André (for the construction of a new jeu de paume at Ainay on land bought from the abbot, Cardinal Gaddi)” (Cooper, p. 18).

Ornamentation

The map’s ornamentation clearly follows the Fontainebleau tradition (essay in Heibrunn Timeline of Art History). The imagery of the map is neoclassical rather than biblical, reflecting the Renaissance infatuation with classical imagery. It may also reflect an anti-clerical sentiment within Lyon’s secular aristocracy (Cooper, p.5). While there is no identified artist(s) signature on the map, perhaps multi-spectral imaging analysis will reveal one some day.
Through this project I have become something of an amateur enthusiast on 16th-Century French engraving – it doesn’t hurt that so much of it is now available online (hyperlink list) to augment Library holdings.

Little is known about the lives of even the most famous engravers of the 16th Century, the main evidence is in the art itself. Based on observation and the assistance of scholarship, here is a list of possible candidates for participation, artists who may have had both the ability and opportunity to create the ornamental art of the 1540s Plan Scéno de Lyon, in order of likelihood (I’ll present more discussion at some future date).

  • Georges Reverdy. “GE Reverdinus fecit”?
  • Jean Mignon. There are many artistic similarities between Mignon’s work and the 1540s Plan Scéno ornamentation, and like most of the engravings attributed to Mignon, the Plan is unsigned.
  • Jacques I Androuet du Cerceau. Androuet du Cerceau was more than capable of creating both the ornamentation and the map itself (perhaps too capable). The contemporaneous and somewhat-similar Vue de la ville de Lyon en 1548 is traditionally attributed to Androuet du Cerceau – could both the 1540s Plan Scéno and the 1548 view both be his work? This intriguing possibility is undermined by Estelle Leutrat’s convincing argument that the attribution of the 1548 view to Androuet du Cerceau is highly suspect (source: Leutrat 2007 pp.99-101). Could the two works be by the same person regardless of whether it is Androuet du Cerceau?
  • Domenico del Barbieri (Fiorentino)
  • Bernard Salomon
  • Sebastiano Serlio (recent article attributing to Serlio the design of the temporary Lyon Theatre built for Henri II’s 1548 entry)
  • Antonio Fantuzzi

I’m just doing gumshoe detective work on this. For real expertise I’d recommend the work of Gérard Bruyère (who wrote on the map engravings for the 1990 Archives publication), Estelle Leutrat, and the Glasgow University Emblems Website.

Coloring the Map

While the two bottom cartouches are frustratingly empty on the Lyon Archives’ printing of the map (the only existing copy), many features of the map were colored in by hand, apparently shortly after the sheets were printed. Although the pigments have faded, the roofs of houses retain their color (most are red, ecclesiastical buildings are blue). Fields were colored green and the two rivers and other bodies of water were colored a dark blue (based on various patches of color that remain).

The faded blue color of the rivers is barely noticeable after four centuries, and this makes it difficult to distinguish the two rivers from the surrounding landscape. This is very detrimental for considering the topography of a city like Lyon, which is so defined by being at the confluence of two rivers – the Saône (which flows through the center of the city) and the faster-flowing Rhône (which effectively served as the eastern border of Lyon up through the 16th century due to its unruly nature and frequent flooding). On the 1540s Plan Scéno the rivers are labeled as “LA SAONE” (female, rivière) and “LE ROSNE” (male, fleuve). The analogy between the joining of Lyon’s rivers at the confluence and the joining of a man and woman is used in the map’s imagery (see Bruyère, 1990), and is popular in both art and poetry (e.g., Délie, objet de plus haulte vertu, dizain XVII, Maurice Scêve (1544).

Distinguishing the rivers is so important for the map’s viewing that I have restored the blue of the water in Photoshop – this really brings the map back to life and makes the numerous river vessels “pop.” The color layer is non-destructive – in fact I superimposed the river engraving as well as any remnants of original color over my added semi-transparent blue layer. As the top image of this essay demonstrates, the enhanced water color can be toggled on or off based on user preference.

Here’s an example from sheet 13 which also shows how I addressed missing portions of the map for river areas such as the gap above the label for Port de Saint-Vincent [note that the image below shows an earlier too-blue waters version]:
zoom_portstvincent2

For more historical information on Lyon and its waters:
L’eau et la santé à Lyon : la formation d’une cité – Partie 1” (Partie 2) by Vettorello Cécil and Vignau Marie (2010).

As the altitude map above illustrates, the other defining features of Lyon’s topography are its two major hills, Fourvière (west of the Saône river) and La Croix Rousse (actually the beginning of a plateau stretching north of the low-lying Presqu’île). From our modern perspective, the scenic plan does a poor job of representing elevation, but in the mid-16th century mapmakers were still figuring that out.

I calculated the compiled Lyon map’s full dimensions to be 170cm tall by 220cm wide (5’6.82″ x 7’3.21″) based on the published sheets that I digitized [Note: the Lyon Archive confirms this: “It consists of 25 sheets each, on average, 34cm high and 44cm wide. The assembly forms a rectangle 1.70m high by 2.20m wide.”]. For comparison, the contemporaneous and similar 15-plate “Copperplate Map” of London is believed to have been 112x226cm, 67.7% the size of the Lyon map (source).

Is the 1540s Plan Scéno the largest Early Modern axonometric map? Probably not – Jacopo de Barberi’s magnificent aerial-view map of Venice (c.1500), printed from a six-piece woodcut that took him three years to make, is 134×280.8cm. I calculate that Barberi’s map is a mere 0.2 square meters larger than the Lyon map (c’est la vie, n’est pas?).

For more on de Barberi’s Venice map (and on axonometric map creation in general) I enthusiastically recommend “Digitizing a complex urban panorama in the Renaissance: The 1500 bird’s-eye view of Venice by Jacopo de’ Barbari” by Juraj Kittler and Deryck W. Holdworth (New Media & Society, August 2, 2013).

Thanks are due to R. Burr Litchfield for aiding the map size comparison – his Florentine Gazetteer is a great digital project (and astonishing for way-back-when in 2006). Its cartographic target is Stefano Buonsignori’s 1584 map of Florence, which is also being utilized in the University of Toronto’s newer DECIMA GIS project (as a backdrop for georeferenced data from the Florentine tax census of 1561-62, which they are inputting to a Filemaker database).

Another map that should be mentioned is Truschet and Hoyau’s “La ville, cite et universite de Paris,” which is contemporaneous (c. 1550-1552) to the 1540s Plan Scéno (c.1550). The sole known printing of the Truschet-Hoyau Paris map was rediscovered in the 1870s in Bâle, Switzerland (Cousin, 1875). The Truschet-Hoyau map printing is more complete than that of the Lyon map and available online via a fully-colored facsimile engraved and printed in 1980. This printing gives us more information on how the Lyon map might have looked if completed. The two maps share a westerly orientation, are extremely similar in engraving style, ornamentation and typeface, and warrant a closer comparison than I will give here. Perhaps the most interesting detail for this comparison is that unlike the Lyon map, the three cartouches at the bottom of the Truschet-Hoyau map are not empty – one cartouche serves as a title box, and the other two contain a celebratory poem about Paris. The most notable difference is that the Truschet-Hoyau map includes only a few undetailed figures of people and only one full vignette (the ballgame shown in the detail below) as opposed to hundreds on the Lyon map.
The Truschet-Hoyau map of Paris is composed of 8 woodcut-printed sheets and measures 0.96m high by 1.33m wide, just over one-third the size of the 1540s Plan Scéno (Source:PICPUS).

Detail_Truschet1550

Detail from “La ville, cite et universite de Paris” by Olivier Truschet and Germain Hoyau (c.1550-52) (1980 facsimile)

Other active digital projects exploring historical city maps include

A lot of interesting work out there!

The Digital Plan Scénographique de Lyon (c.2014-15)

The two images below illustrate the high level of detail and impressive scale of the 1540s Plan Scéno. The left image is a full view of the digitally-compiled map. The red rectangle indicates the zoomed area shown in the right image. This shows that the map is not simply large but also intricate and informationally dense. The left image of the full map appears blurry, but that is because it is actually less than 1% the size of the full 2.5 gigapixel image (the right-side image here is still only 4% size!).

If I were a mathematician, I’d try to calculate how far away a person would need to be from a 2.2-meter wide object for it to appear the same size as a 0.12 meters wide photo of the map held by the viewer at arm’s length.
I’m not going to hazard it at this point (let’s just say it’s percolating – I would have to calculate its “angular size”).

My first effort to digitally compile the Plan Scénographique (Winter 2013-14) resulted in an impressive-sounding 4,900-pixels-wide image, but the actual resolution was less than 10% of the 25 full-sized segment scans I created (52.28ppi, down from 500ppi). If I had tried to compile the map using the 25 full-size TIFF images (each 7,000 pixels wide at 500ppi), my work PC computer would have crashed. This matters because my first version lacked much of the rich detail that makes the Plan so exceptional. For example, the creator(s) labels most of the streets and churches on the map but the text is illegible in the small, 52.28 pixels-per-inch version.
In April 2014, I re-compiled the map from the full-sized images utilizing a more powerful PC computer. My current version is a 2.5 gigapixel image with over 400ppi resolution, and all the writing is fully legible. At some point I will probably re-process the map a third time using slightly better scans, but the current image is more than adequate for exploring the map.

Historical Context

The Italian Wars
The period known as the French Renaissance is generally thought to have begun with the first of France’s “Italian Wars,” Charles VIII’s invasion of Italy (1494-8). Six more Italian Wars followed over the next 61 years, with France’s imperial pretensions being repeatedly thwarted by the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain. I should mention that Lyon was known as the “Clé du Royaume” of France during this period, being in a strategic position between between Isle-de-France (Parisian region) and the Italian alps and therefore a logistical center for military campaigns into Italy.

Lyon was the second largest city in France during the 16th Century (approximate population 80,000, compared to Paris’ population of at least 250,000) and the major trading hub of Southern France. Up until the 1550s Lyon was visited frequently by the King’s court and the base of operations for Francois I’s Italian campaigns.

Ironically Francois I (ruler of France from 1515-1547) borrowed heavily from Lyon’s expatriate community of Italian bankers to finance his military campaigns into Northern Italy. Italian merchants were also prominent in Lyon’s fairs and the silk industry, and many of their impressive residences are depicted on the 1540s Plan Scéno. Sixteenth century Lyon was truly a multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan city of strategic importance for both trade and war.

To illustrate this I put together the following quick “mashup” of major river basins in Western Europe centered on Lyon. Despite obvious imperfections, it does show that Lyon was strategically located near 5 major river systems – The Loire, Seine, Rhine, Rhone (includes Saône) and Po. One can visualize Francois I’s forces in 1524-25 embarking from Lyon towards Grenoble, across the alps at Briançon, though the Susa valley to Turin, then down the Po river towards Pavia (and defeat).

Riverbasins.png

Roman Lugdunum
The 1540s Plan Scéno explicitly references Lyon’s own Roman past – almost a millenium earlier – to reflect imperial glory on the French crown and Lyon itself. Lyon was built upon the ruins of Lugdunum (c. 43BCE-192CE), the Roman Capitol of “the three Gauls” – Celtica, Belgica and Aquitania. The Roman city was mostly destroyed in the Battle of Lugdunum (197CE), the victory that solidified Emperor Septimius Severus’ control of the Roman Empire. Severus founded his own imperial dynasty, which is what the 16th Century French Kings aspired to (particularly Francois I) with questionable success.

The following cartouche (link) is from the 1540s Plan Scéno’s eighth sheet, centrally located on the hill of Fourvière, which was the heart of Lugdunum. It roughly translates to:

Here worshiped the Roman Emperor Severus, under whom so many
of the Martyrs of the Fourth and Fifth Church suffered persecution.
See the History of the Church, Book Five.
Severus

Henri II
The 1540s Plan Scéno also contains numerous symbolic references to Henri II, who ruled France from March 1547 until his premature death in June 1559. This tells us that at least the artistic, non-cartographic elements of the map were created after Henri II was crowned King of France in July 1547 (succeeding his father Francois I). While some the map elements may date to as early as 1544, the Plan Scéno was most likely completed around the time of T the King’s Royal Entry into Lyon in September 1548. The artwork created for the Royal Entry contains classical imagery and symbolism extremely similar to that used in the Plan Scéno (as shown in a festival book for the entry written by the celebrated poet and humanist Maurice Scêve). Henri II’s personal emblem, the crescent moon, is pervasive in both book and map.

Scêve and the artist Bernard Salomon (whose engravings illustrate the festival book) helped orchestrate the 1548 Royal Entry itself and were assigned the task by the powerful and wealthy Archbishop of Lyon, Ippolito d’Este (later Cardinal of Ferrar). This is quite an intriguing line of inquiry as well – did these men also play a part in arranging the creation of the Plan Scéno itself? (more info.)
Borromeanmoons

In July 1559, at a tournament held to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis, Henri II was killed when a splinter from a broken lance flew into his visor during a joust and the injury became infected. Henri II’s teenage son Francis II inherited the throne, and as a result the politics of France were destabilized.

Death of Henri II_gistroHenriIIArmor_MET

The end of the Italian Wars did not bring peace to France. Three years after Henri II’s death, the Massacre of Vassy instigated the first of the mostly-internal French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestant Huguenots, which continued at least until the Edict of Nantes in 1598.

In 1562, during the first War of Religion, the Protestant (Calvinist) Huguenots took over Lyon, pillaged its Catholic churches, and in fact demolished the Basilica Saint-Just and L’église Saint-Irénée, shown in the first (top-left) sheet of the 1540s Plan Scéno. Saint-Irénée was rebuilt on the same site in 1582, but Saint-Just was moved to the north, just within the main city walls. The ruins of the original Saint-Just are now an archaeological park.

Thus the 1540s Plan Scénographique represents the city of Lyon at peace and as part of a (relatively) unified France shortly before the onset of a long period of internal strife.

Portrait of a City

The (unidentified) artist peppered the map with a great many delightful little stick-figure vignettes depicting normal activities such as hunting, fishing, farming, building fortifications, bartering, dancing, and even tennis. See the third excerpt above, which includes idealized representations of both river and street activities.

While many similar Scenic maps from the 1500s have scenes of city life, those in the 1540s Plan Scénographique are more pervasive, varied and evocative than those of other axonometric city portraits that have come down to us.

The ubiquitous live vignettes are what truly distinguish the 1540s Plan Scéno de Lyon from other similar scenic maps. These scenes from life add a powerful dynamic element, evoking an idealized era of prosperity, and inspiring curiosity in the viewer about how people lived during the now-romanticized “golden age” of mid 16th-century Lyon.

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
– John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn (1819)

– Andrew Taylor, 01/07/14 (and periodically updated since)


Addendum

Other Digital Projects about Pre-Modern Lyon
An interesting GIS project would be to create a virtual 1540s Lyon based on various sources and implemented using a software platform such as Esri’s CityEngine. Many projects like this are already being worked on (most notably “Lyon en 1700”) so I expect a virtual pre-modern Lyon to become available online within the next decade.
[Note: The Lyon GIS project is already well underway – an authoritative, scholarly, data-driven historical project, not merely a cavalier visualization!]

Description of the map in French on the Lyon City Archives website.

A series of 25 engravings based on the 1540s Lyon plan was created and published in serial from 1872-76 as Plan scénographique de la ville de Lyon au XVIe siècle. Research by the Lyon Archives tells us that architect Léon Charvet directed the project and that it was executed by two engravers – Joanny Séon (the topographical engraver) and François Dubouchet (the ornamental engraver). Note that while the facsimile was printed at the same size as the original, it was engraved on zinc plates, whereas the 1540s Plan Scéno was engraved on copper plates.

At one point I had believed that the image shown below was of an additional (extra) 26th sheet engraved for the 1870s project – an overview image of the whole map with the missing edges reconstructed (based on the little information available from other sources).

However, my own work (and a careful viewing of the below map) disproves this – the image below was compiled from reductions of the 25 full-size engraved copies made in 1872-1876 for the “facsimile” edition. The below facsimile composite may have been made for or by Lyon’s Museum Gadagne (which has a full-size printing of the 1870s facsimile on permanent exhibition). Unfortunately the image below is too small for the street and building labels to be legible. An illegible stamp on the lower right and an accession number on top are modern archival details.

Full1872mapGadagne_Lyon1872-6

I am somewhat skeptical about the lettering on the four reconstructed sides, which don’t perfectly match what remains of the original. Only a few remnants of the edges’ lettering remain, on the first sheet (top-left).

Here is the Latin writing as shown along the edges of the 1876 facsimile:
The vertical letters:
Left side: “Pars Meridionalis” (Southern part).
Right side: “Pars Septentrionalis” (Northern part).

The horizontal letters:
Top: “Pars Occidentalis” (West Part)
Bottom: “Pars Orientalis”(East part)

These side labels may be a later addition, not a part of the original 1540s map, but we can’t know for sure either way. There are partial letters visible at the top of the first (top-left) sheet, but they do not match those of the 1872 facsimile.

One additional primary source for the 1872-76 “Facsimile” is a 1698 map engraved by Nicolas-Henri Tardieu for scholar Claude-François Ménestrier. Although smaller (68x86cm, less than 1/6th the size of the original). and less detailed, the “Tardieu map” is highly derivative of the Lyon 1540s map, and at one point was even incorrectly considered the original, and the Lyon 1540s map the copy.
Unlike the 1870s reconstruction, the bottom right corner of Tardieu’s version doesn’t show the North-Northeast wind’s face, or the scroll containing “Aquilo” (the wind’s classical name) – however the 1870s version is probably more reflective of the original, as the 1540s map still contains remnants of a scroll matching those visible in the other three corners, and perhaps part of the breath emanating from the cherub’s mouth.

For a number of reasons (not the least of which is accessibility), the 1872-1876 “Facsimile” continues to be used as a surrogate for the original map, usually without any acknowledgement that the displayed image is a nineteenth-century recreation with significant differences from the original.

When the Lyon Archives published the 25 sheets in 1990, city archivist Jeanne-Marie Dureau (who oversaw the project) wrote “Historique du plan de 1550” an essay explaining how the 1872-76 facsimile came to replace the original in the public imagination. Dureau expressed the hope that the 1990 publication of the original sheets would redress this, but my own web research has unfortunately shown me that, 25 years later, the 1872-76 facsimile remains pre-eminent. The original map will soon be available online – through my own project and probably others as well. I’m hopeful that now scholars will choose to use images derived from the original map rather than those of the (still impressive) 1872-1876 copy.

Dureau’s essay is now part of the Archives Municipales de Lyon’s excellent Lyon 1550 webpage that adapts the 1990 publication, includes further scholarship as well as a very low-resolution version of the full 1540s map.

agtandLyon
Photo: Willam McAfee

Andrew Taylor standing behind the 25 sheets as restored in 1989 by Michel Guet, photographed by Jacques Gastineau and published by Archives Municipales de Lyon in 1990.

Click to enlarge images:
map1map2map3

New Media Timeline: King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band, 1917-1923

September 2, 2014 1 comment

kocjb_captioned

I’ve always been fascinated with visualizations of historical events (action within time and space), and even more so with the failure of circumscribed media projects to adequately represent history.

Historiography is always artificial, and timelines compound this by being streamlined and projecting a linear clarity, which can obscure the messiness that underlies real events.

So (of course) I’m building one!

Timeline of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (1917-1923)

I’ve finally decided to post about my in-progress timeline, which follows the development of King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band (“KOCJB”) from 1917 through 1923, the year the band made 39 recordings which constitute “the first recordings of substance by an African-American jazz band [and] the most significant corpus of early recorded jazz” (Gene Anderson, U. Richmond).

While cornetist Joe “King” Oliver was an important pioneer of Hot Jazz in his own right, tody he is remembered because his protégé was none other than Louis Armstrong, the most important (and best, IMO) musician of the “Jazz Age” (Armstrong’s period of seminal influence really extended from 1925 to 1935 or so, after which point his myriad innovations had been mostly incorporated into the Jazz landscape).

Armstrong played second cornet behind his mentor and idol Oliver from mid-1922 until August 1923 and on all 39 KOCJB records.

. . . there’s people all over the world, they like to hear that lead – ain’t no sense playing a hundred notes if one will do.  Joe Oliver always used to say “Think about that lead.”
– Louis Armstrong on his 70th birthday
(paraphrased from Michael Steinman’s blog Jazz Lives)

Scholarly Sources
My current bibliography (to which I need to add Floyd Levin’s book Classic Jazz among others), is here.
There are many great Jazz History sites on the web.  To the enthusiasts among you I would recommend browsing the British Doctor Jazz site and Christer Fellers’ collaborative archive about trombonist and bandleader Kid Ory, The Kid from LaPlace.  You also might check out the seminal Red Hot Jazz Archive website (though not updated since 1997 or so).
the accompanying  RedHotJazz listserv has a lot of great contributors who discuss both 1920s artists and recordings as well as  the many modern musical artists whose music takes inspiration from the “Hot Jazz” era.

Technical Notes
The Javascript tool TimelineJS, built for journalists by Northwestern University’s Knight lab, is the platform used to build the KOCJB Timeline.

This KOCJB project is shelved right now as I’m focused on other projects.

The timeline communicates what I’m trying to accomplish, but it’s unfinished.  I should redo the introduction, add more details about the band’s California trip from May 1921 to June 1922 (there’s a lot of information), and write and end summary. The visual style is inconsistent as well.

I expect to continue refining the timeline, though who knows what web platform it will be on in a decade.
Thanks to John McCusker, Gene Anderson, and the entire wonderful community of Hot Jazz enthusiasts.

– Andrew Taylor | September 19, 2014

Using the Google Earth API as a 3-D viewer for non-georectifiable old maps

August 12, 2014 Leave a comment

[NOTE: this no longer works, as the Google KML Gadget that supported this implementation has recently been taken offline and the Google Earth API itself is being “deprecated”  (the KML does still work in Google Earth’s desktop version). This is a lesson to never be dependent on a specific tool or process – tech advancements will leave you behind.
– AGT 12/2014]

This is an experiment I did last year – it uses the Google Earth API as a viewing engine to explore a historic map, and I’m fairly happy with how it worked out.

To explore the map  you need  the Google Earth API installed on you browser.

It’s easy to forget that a 2-dimensional vellum  map like this was designed to be viewed in 3 dimensions, not from the Top-Down, North-is-Up perspective offered by most Desktop Computer setups (Tablets address this shortcoming somewhat because their screens can be viewed from multiple viewpoints and angles).    Changing viewpoints is especially important for this map, which is drawn from multiple perspectives.

Using the Google Earth API as a map viewer restores that 3D experience.  A user can look at this map from any angle and change their point of view virtually at will.  This also benefits from the excellent Google Earth interface, which many people are already familiar with.  Of course the Google Earth API could be used to view any flat image, not just maps.  I should mention that the compass direction is accurate according to the cathedral’s location in Google Earth’s satellite image, that both the map and “carpet” are GE Overlays and that the original map is much more detailed than this overlay image (and all the text is legible).
http://agt2.web.rice.edu/Carville_greencarpet_3.21.13.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Faceted Semantic Browser: American Furniture, 1635-1900

September 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Here’s a link to a semantic browsing tool I just built to explore some of the furniture assets contained in the Rice Art History Collection.  It utilizes the Library of Congress’ Viewshare tool, though I made most of my (very extensive) metadata changes in Excel.  Viewshare’s visualization platform (based on the Simile Exhibit engine) is quite powerful and can be effectively applied to any rich dataset.

While this experiment only utilizes 170 image assets, it effectively demonstrates how a semantic browser  can help users explore a subject area using metadata “facets”.  It features furniture images used in a current Rice Art History course, Dr. Joseph Manca’s HART 339/539: American Art and Architecture 1620-1800.
Screenshot:

amfurnview10-3-13

Viewshare is a powerful tool, but unfortunately most of the editing work had to be done in Excel.  There is no way to update an imported dataset from within Viewshare, or even update a single record directly – you have to re-import the dataset and recreate the View from scratch.  Being forced to redo all your work in Viewshare in order to correct minor errors becomes tiresome (e.g., the materials facet lists “Ash” and “ash” separately).  There is also no easy way to show multiple images for the same item, so mostly I’ve selected only one image for each piece of furniture.  Being an imaging specialist, I would probably work around this by combining multiple photographs of an item into a single image file.

Viewshare doesn’t support database-driven views, you have to upload a preformatted flat spreadsheet, but it does support one-to-many relationships somewhat through it’s “Augment” field feature. For example, if you upload an Asset “Wicker Chair” with a Location field containing “East Haven, CT;Connecticut” and then run Augment, identifying “;” as the delimiter, Viewshare will create a new field containing both “East Haven, CT” and “Connecticut” as 2 separate Locations for that one Asset.  It is irritating to troubleshoot your data, but it does work.

Like most so-called “automatic” visualization engines, Viewshare is “garbage in, garbage out” – the results are only as good as the data provided by the user.  While the metadata from our collection was decent, I still had to completely overhaul it, and honestly it still contains a few small errors (e.g., some block-and-shell furniture is only listed as Colonial for Period Style, and some Federal-period pieces should also be listed under Neoclassical).

I also added links to the individual items, museum websites, Period/Style descriptions and Creator biographies where available. While I am by no means a furniture expert, I do believe that Viewshare projects such as this one can truly help people expand their understanding of a subject area.  Building this View certainly taught me about furniture styles, though of course I’ve spent far more time building it than the average visitor would spend using it.

Semantic Browsing engines such as the ones Viewshare allows are very hot right now, which is another way of saying this is still an immature technology area.
Still, I can’t recommend Viewshare highly enough, and it’s only going to get better.

– Andrew Taylor, Associate Curator of Visual Resources, Rice University

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Google Fusion Tables: Colonial and Federalist architecture

August 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Haven’t been updating this blog, but here are some of the New Media and Technology projects I’m experimenting with.  Probably I’ll reboot the entire blog at some point to reflect what I’m engaged with currently.

  • I’ve been experimenting with Google Sheets and Fusion Tables as tools to organize and display “cultural object” images and metadata.
    • Here’s the fusion table I set up containing 364 examples of Colonial and Federalist architecture.   Only small images are accessible but it’s still pretty cool, especially the (semi)automatic Fusion Table map.
      Our collection  hosts 3,576 images of these 364 sites, for an average of 9.82 images per site.  Of course this Fusion table only includes one image asset per site at the moment.  Google automatically geocodes the site location based on a single asset’s metadata record (the geocoded pins are mostly accurate).   You could then 1) include all 9.82 assets for each particular sitepin in its pop-up window or more likely 2) stick with one image but include a hyperlink that opens all 9.82 images together as an ARTstor image group.   This fusion table is proof-of-concept –  I doubt I will develop it further, but it works.  If I was really going to optimize it, I would transfer it into a more robust, customizable platform such as the Google Earth API.
      ColFedArch1
    • Here’s a link to my image labeling spreadsheet, intended to allow professors to create bare-bones metadata for their digital images, not as an end-product display platform.  This professor only gave me 36 images so far but said he likes it and would give me more.   I also did a similar Google sheets table containing all my personal images on my work computer (almost 2,600) which works the same way, though with so many personal images included I don’t want to post it until they are culled.
      I love that the images are easily accessible on the web, but with 2,600 images it’s too slow right now and I’m considering ways to make it faster.  I may split the table up into multiple tabs (or even separate files) but I don’t really want to.  I’ll add more details about this at some point.  I’ve pitched the spreadsheet to various Rice Professors as a tool with which to consolidate their digital assets.  I don’t think they really understand what’s valuable about it that other systems don’t provide, I’ll have to create a good demo sheet to show them.
  • I’ve recently been assigned with maintaining the Department of Art History web pages, which is a nice change of pace and not too difficult.  Formerly the Department utilized the Ektron CMS for it’s website, but now has a customized Drupal page (12/01/15).
  • Taking Coursera’s MOOC Maps and the Geospatial Revolution
    • While I enjoyed the Python MOOC, life conspired to distract me and I only got through the first 4 of 9 weeks.  This Geospatial Revolution MOOC seems to be less intensive than the Python one and because I have some GIS experience I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep it up.
  • Signed up for an Adobe “Train the Trainer” class which I was asked to join after purchasing their Creative Cloud software.  Have no idea how intensive that will be.

Hopefully I’ll get some time to work on these projects!

– Andrew Taylor

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Learning something new (Interactive Programming with Python) pt.2

May 21, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve just finished the fourth week of my Rice Coursera course, Interactive Programming with Python.

The idea of the course is to teach programming through having students recreate classic videogames in the Python programming language.  To facilitate this, one of the teachers (Scott Rixner) created a web-based Python platform called CodeSkulptor.   An interesting thing about CodeSkulptor is that he had to create it using JavaScript, a more web-friendly language, and makes a joke in one lecture about what a pain programming in JavaScript is.

The video lectures do a good job of helping you get to know the professors as people, which I think helps.  Some day I’m going to see one of these guys walking on the Rice Campus and walk up to them babbling, forgetting that we’ve never met.  Hopefully fame won’t go to their heads.

I haven’t yet developed a full understanding of how the course’s lessons will help me outside of class, but I am learning how to program within the framework provided.  It’s a slow process, I just have to be patient.

I have a standard workflow, moving towards the assignment due date Saturday at midnight.

  • Sunday-Monday: recuperate
  • Tuesday: do the mandatory 5 evaluations of classmates’ projects and a self-assessment.  Watch one more lecture.
  • Wednesday:  try to watch every lecture at least once and go through some examples.
  • Thursday:   Look over again, letting it seep into the brain and procrastinating.
  • Friday: Do both quizzes for the week.  The class  allows you to take quizzes up to 5 times until you get 100%,  That really breaks the inertia because I’m not scared to take the test.  Read all about the mini-project, watch the video lecture on it again and check the grading rubric.
  • Saturday:  spend about 5-6 hours completing the project

Problem with this is that if I have other things going on I haven’t left myself much leeway to finish.

This Friday I am taking an all-day  GIS Vector workshop at UT Austin, which means I’d better get cracking on the IPP course.  My daughter’s never been to Austin, so my wife will drive up and take her to the Capitol and various other free stuff.  In the evening we’re going to try to see Austin’s famous bats head out to feed.

– Andrew Taylor

Categories: Virtually Learning

Learning something new (Interactive Programming with Python) pt.1

May 6, 2013 2 comments

I am starting Week 3 in my  nine-week Coursera class created by Rice computer science professors, An Introduction to Interactive Programming in PythonI’m enjoying it so far and recommend that anyone interested in learning programming take a look at it.

Learning something new is not really an adult thing to do!  It’s uncomfortable – most of the time we’d rather do the things we’ve done a million times before and are therefore great at.  There’s probably nothing in the world I’m better at than the work tasks I’ve been doing for 20 years, and it’s easy to forget that this is exactly why I’m good at them.

It’s hard to be patient when you feel like a blockhead, trying to pound your head through a new type of task.  Why should it take me all Saturday (with fits and starts) to finish the class project “Guess a Number”?  Answer – it takes as long as it takes, and through not taking shortcuts (or cheating in some way)  I will end up understanding the material better.

I have two advantages that help me to keep plugging through projects like this.

One is that I learned to play my first instrument (diatonic harmonica) as an adult.   I thought it would be relatively easy – it wasn’t!  However I did have a facility for the instrument (within limits) and after a few years of effort became a competent player,  an aficionado of  the great players,  and a fan of the  “Blues genre.”    The return was well worth the effort and time I invested.   The best part is that I remember not being able  to do things with a harp (colloquial American term for harmonica) at all that are now very easy.  I can’t imagine not being able to solo at all, or not having a vibrato – but I remember that it took me about four years to be able to do those things effectively, with maybe an average of 45 minutes per day at my most enthusiastic.  That’s a lot of practice time, and to become very good I’d probably have to double that effort at least (obviously I’m investing that effort in other areas now).

The other thing is that  in my field  (Information Science)  I am continually exploring  new tools (software, tech, etc.) and teaching our faculty how to best use them for their work.  Once all the professors are up to speed with a technology, a new version comes along that requires further training.  So I am continually learning to do new things and helping others learn.

I should also mention that since Christmas (inspired by reading Moonwalking with Einstein) I have successfully added 468 country locations to my long-term memory (sic) through completing a “Countries of the World” course on the Memrise website.   Now know lots non-actionable information – the names and locations of all the island chains in the South Pacific, all the countries in Africa, Central America, etcThe point of mentioning this that I successfully completed a learning project, and reminds me that if I invest effort and time I can learn new things and  develop new skills such as programming.

– Andrew Taylor

Simile Timeline project, “platform independence” concept and Rice Python programming MOOC

April 24, 2013 Leave a comment

I’ve been experimenting with Timeline, a widget from MIT’s SIMILE project, and intend to build one and share it online.

The goal is to create a Louis Armstrong recording Timeline from the 1920s, with images and linking to the recordings (should all be accessible on YouTube in some form).

Basically Armstrong’s 2os recording locations are predictable and uncertain at the same time .  During the 20s he  mostly recorded in Chicago, then New York, then Chicago again, but many of the specific recording studio address are unrecorded (data example:  “OKeh recording session – Chicago, IL – March 1, 1926”).  As a result,  the temporal element is primary, the spatial element secondary.

I’ll probably just put in a divider indicating that he’s back in Chicago after 11/9/1926, maybe with light commentary on events surrounding the move.

I might also port it to the Neatline platform, though I don’t expect that to work as well given that the demo projects seem focused on the map elements rather than the timeline.  I may be wrong on this, but the best way to find out is to create it.

The goal is really to create a platform-independent dataset that can be easily plugged into any platform with minimal fuss.  With technology advancing so rapidly, the important thing is not a project’s particular implementation on any one platform,  but rather easy accessibility to the data and media assets that constitute the project.

[I am also currently taking a 9-week Coursera class created by Rice computer science professors, An Introduction to Interactive Programming in PythonI’m enjoying it so far and recommend that anyone interested in learning programming take a look at it.]

The Way of Saint James – Principal French Routes

March 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Microsoft PowerPoint - legend_4.30.pptx
[Click to enlarge]

I wanted to show and write about the above map visualization, which derives from one of  my early Google Earth-based  GIS projects (mostly created during Christmas week 2011).  I put off posting about it until now because it was inspired by a class trip to France organized and led by one of our Rice Art History professors, medieval scholar Linda Neagley.  Along with the GIS classes I took for THATCamp Texas 2011, digitizing Gothic architecture images for Professor Neagley was a big inspiration for my GIS experiments.  Medieval pilgrimage also provided a natural target for GIS visualization in Google Earth.  I’d put off mentioning my project as I was uncomfortable about focusing on Professor Neagley’s project, but she’s seen it recently and thought it was an interesting angle of perspective.

A major source of  data and knowledge for this project was  Peter Robins, a European pilgrimage enthusiast/expert and creator of The Walking Pilgrim website, “[his] contribution to the current interest in walking old pilgrim routes in W Europe. It is primarily about routes, both current and historical, which is my main interest. It’s not about spiritual guidance or any of the religious aspects of pilgrimage. It includes my routes database, information on medieval itineraries, plus my suggestions for routes to the ports of S England, and to the shrines of N Wales.”

The KML linestring data (the Ways depicted are “Real” geocoded linestrings, not drawn) my geovisualization uses do not all derive from Robins work per se, as there’s plenty of pilgrimage stuff on the web and it took some time before I realized that most of the best stuff I found was from Robins.  Given the day back again the linestrings  probably would all have come from The Walking Pilgrim,  since a few months after I began Robins generously responded to an email and explained how to download his linestrings from his website. The route distances were also adapted from Robins routes database.

I had already managed to create kml linestrings for many of the routes from based on data from various other web sources, I believe the pre-Robins routes were: le Puy, Arles, Vézeley, Aragonés and Francés.  Many derived from gr-info.com’s grande randonnée “Long distance Footpaths” website, for some reason they didn’t have an ideal Paris-Tours route.  for the visualization shown here I included many of  Robins other Compostela-directed pilgrimage routes as unlabeled dark-red  linestrings, partially to show other routes but also because they evoke veins of Christ’s blood going toward Compostella, and mirror the Milky Way above.

Peter Robins pointed out to me that the modern hiking paths are unlikely to have been the medieval paths – modern highways are more likely to run over the routes taken in the “moyen age.”

Pilgrimage maps from books in the Rice Library collection
While digitizing images of medieval reliquaries (the elaborate containers, as opposed to the relics, i.e. bones, True Cross piece, etc.) from the Treasures of Heaven exhibit catalog in-house for Professor Neagley’s class, I noticed that the acompanying modern map of medieval pligrimage routes from the book wasn’t very detailed and I decided to go hunting for and scanning Camino Santiago (AKA Way of Saint James) pilgrimage maps in a systematic way.

UPDATE
This project is pretty much over now, partially because I don’t remember the organization of all the files. The KML (Google Earth) file became so complicated that it frequently became corrupted and required lots of maintenance.

I think people have to do projects to learn how to do something – working on this one taught me a lot about Google Earth’s strengths and weaknesses as a Geohumanities platform, and about what I might want to do going forward.
– Andrew Taylor | October 24, 2014