the reasoned catalogue realized

collect, analyze and share  the value of data lies in their use

“Research is so important—it’s a ‘buyer beware’ situation. You have to check: does the seller of an artwork have clear title going all the way back? How does one even know which catalogue raisonné is the right one? And, just because it’s listed in the catalogue, how does one know if what’s listed is true?” [1]

This last question may be surprising, even shocking, but how does one know? Common sense tells you that the biggest drawback with the traditional catalogue raisonné is that it is out of date the moment it goes to press—errors and all. So, as time goes by, everything in it is suspect.

Cataloguing online is a fluid, open-ended process. As a result, an ecosystem of participation and collaboration—a kind of controlled crowdsourcing—is slowly developing amongst the various stakeholders in the art industry. Curators, writers, historians, teachers, students, appraisers, wealth managers, galleries, museums, libraries, archives, auction houses, collectors, insurers, educational institutions, foundations, estates, artists, and anyone else invested in the subject are all able to exchange information with and give feedback to the authors.

The result is no longer a static collection of records and documents to be occasionally referenced by a few, but an organic process that plays a dynamic and very public role in both the appreciation and the business of art.

Leverage data as soon as they are usable — usability means traceable chains of evidence.

Starting a project of your own? Already have data and wondering what to do next?
Simply have a question? Contact us.

[1] Elizabeth Szancer, art advisor, curator, and Vice President of APAA, New York. Ms. Szancer was one of four experts at Vetting the Object, Vetting the Source, an Appraisers Association of America panel discussion held at Sotheby’s New York, June 5, 2015.

Above: Paul Cézanne. La Corbeille de pommes, c. 1893. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (65 x 80 cm). Signed lower left in red-brown: P. Cezanne. The Art Institute of Chicago (The Helen Birch-Bartlett Memorial Collection).

the artist’s legacy is in your hands

Fitz Henry Lane – Gloucester Harbor 1847 (detail)

with panOpticon the artist’s legacy is in your hands

When you use panOpticon, you aren’t just compiling and archiving data for future publication. When you use panOpticon, you are building a fully-functioning, reasoned catalogue bit by bit.

panOpticon is a purpose-built cloud-based Information Management System, designed so you can analyze, validate, document, and manage the data around the artwork of an individual artist and release traceable, verifiably accurate information for others to discover and reuse.

As soon as they are ready to release, reliable data about works of art and their histories may be published, they can be put to work in curating exhibitions, they play a vital role in promoting an unknown or overlooked artist, they can be employed to create teaching tools and interactive displays, they are indispensable to the production of an authoritative catalogue raisonné.

Reliable data help preserve and protect the legacy of an artist.

Get started now. The sooner you begin, the happier you’ll be.


The best way to grasp what our product can do is to see it in action. Request a demonstration. We demonstrate our system online. We’ll show it to you wherever you are.

Above from left to right: Hugh Steers (1963–95) 1982 photo: Nicola Goode; Mary Cassatt (1844–1926); László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) and Lucia Moholy, Untitled 1925, Museum of Modern Art: Thomas Walther Collection. The Family of Man Fund 1791.2001 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

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an amazing site – it takes a village

Fitz Henry Lane – Gloucester Harbor 1847 (detail)

An amazing website makes a significant contribution to the digital humanities

Fitz Henry Lane Online is a freely-accessible interactive and interdisciplinary online resource created by the Cape Ann Museum. The website is organized around a catalog of the paintings, drawings, and lithographs of nineteenth-century American painter Fitz Henry Lane (1804–1865). The Cape Ann Museum, located in Gloucester, Massachusetts (Lane’s birthplace and home for most of his life) has the world’s largest collection of Lane’s paintings, drawings, lithographs, and related archival material. The website is intended to provide information of interest to a broad audience, and to serve as a resource for study of Lane’s work. The website focuses on both the formal, aesthetic qualities and the historical context of Lane’s pictures.

“One of the advantages of an online resource is that new information can be added at any time. It is intended that this site will evolve as writers, historians, and art scholars pursue new research and use this site as a forum and important resource for the work of Fitz Henry Lane and the related art and history of mid-nineteenth-century New England.

“With funding from generous donors, early conservation and curatorial work by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and conservation work donated by the Cleveland Museum of Art, the website now includes hundreds of high-resolution images, including details and conservation (infrared, x-ray, and magnified) images; provenance records; selected exhibition and literature histories; annotated entries for key works; and extensive historical materials related to the subjects of Lane’s pictures. This project could not have been launched without the tireless contributions of project and Cape Ann Museum staff and the wide circle of advisors and volunteers who have so generously devoted their time and expertise, for which we are ever grateful.”

Sam Holdsworth
Fitz Henry Lane Online Project Director
“About the Project” (see the full article with list of staff, sponsors, and donors)


“A sincere thanks for getting us to this milestone.
The site is amazing.”

Ronda Faloon
Director of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts
Fitz Henry Lane: An online project under the direction of the Cape Ann Museum


Above : Fitz Henry Lane. Gloucester Harbor (detail),1847. Oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 41 in. (71.8 x 104.1 cm). Signed and dated lower right: F H Lane, 1847 [could have been FHL originally]. Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Estate of Samuel H. Mansfield, 1949 (1332.20). Photo: Cape Ann Museum


panOpticon is pleased to have worked so closely with everyone involved with this innovative project. And we feel especially privileged that our online platform powers such a remarkable site.

Starting a project of your own? Already have data and wondering what to do next? Simply have a question? Contact us.


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meet our advisory board

Battista, Cooke, Gabrielli, Nash

Four leaders in the fine art of cataloging will advise us as we move forward

It is with great pleasure that we at panOpticon present the members of our newly formed Board of Advisors, a distinguished group, whose experience and expertise covers just about every aspect of catalogue raisonné production—from research, archiving, scholarship, and writing, to education, exhibition curation, estate management, and collecting.

Kathy Battista, Writer, Educator, Curator, is the Founding Program Director of the MA in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York.

Susan Cooke, Art Historian, is Associate Director of The Estate of David Smith and Program Director of the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association.

Caroline Gabrielli, Art Library and Archive Consultant, is part of the team preparing the Richard Serra Catalogue Raisonné of Sculpture.

David Nash, Art Dealer, co-founded the New York gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash. He directs the Paul Cézanne Catalogue Raisonné Project, which he created in 2011.

We invite you to read more about Kathy, Susan, Caroline, and David on our website.


Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a package that will meet your exact needs.

“I have long understood the extraordinary capacity of database programs to amass, organize, and reveal connections among myriad kinds of information, but I can honestly say that the panOpticon tool is first of its kind that I have also enjoyed using.” — Susan Cooke

Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

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how to keep an artist’s work alive

Paul Cézanne in his studio at Les Lauves

how to keep an artist’s work alive?   — choose the right online tools now

The Artist Estate: A Handbook for Artists, Executors, and Heirs, is a must read for artists, their family members and their heirs, artist’s studio managers, artist’s estate executives, artist-endowed foundation managers and board members, gallerists, and gallery/artist liaison managers, service providers for artists’ estates, art lawyers & tax advisors, and all those who have a stake in the industry.

Edited by Loretta Würtenberger, co-founder of The Institute for Artists’ Estates in Berlin, this invaluable book offers “appropriate financial models, possible legal frameworks, as well as advice on how to properly handle the art market, museums, and academia.” A whole chapter entitled “How to Keep an Artist’s Work Alive?” is devoted to the catalogue raisonné enterprise.

Whether it provides an overview of the artist’s oeuvre in digital or print form, a catalogue raisonné establishes the fundamental categories of the art in the catalogue, as well as influences the way we discuss the art. Because it creates value, the originators and editors also carry a great ethical responsibility. In order to maintain the integrity of the artist and the authenticity of his or her work, the meticulous scholarly assessment must be carried out independent of any financial interests. “As a ‘register of reason,’ the work on the catalogue raisonné requires diligence more than intellectual brilliance,” remarks the art historian Anette Tietenberg, who works in Braunschweig. Yet the catalogue raisonné also requires more than organizational abilities, as it must harness “the power of facts to ensure
its future relevance.”

Today, a catalogue raisonné should be digitized; it almost goes without saying that online databases can be expanded and updated easily. Moreover, the scope of the online catalogue raisonné should encompass the following:

1. Links to internal archival material
2. Links to documentation such as checklists and exhibition photographs
3. The integration of video and audio materials
4. The possibility of incorporating negative or inconclusive results, so that the limits of previous research are well understood
5. Links to external sources such as archival holdings and press articles or other publications, as well as public search engines and databases.

… it is also imperative to select a database that can be used internally, but also provides a module for web publishing. Among other things, this module then helps determine which sets of information developed for internal use should be published online and for whom. [The New York archivist Caroline] Gabrielli recommends asking at the outset: Who should have full access to the catalogue raisonne? Should access only be local or should it be published on the web? Does the technology allow necessary information to be linked? How much does this particular solution cost? Does it necessitate ongoing technical support, or must separate IT providers be brought on?

Now, take a look at the best example out there, bar none: The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: An online catalogue raisonné under the direction of Walter Feilchenfeldt, Jayne Warman and David Nash.


Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a package that will meet your exact needs.

   ”The Estate of David Smith is currently using panOpticon for our catalogue raisonné and archives databases and for more general inventory purposes.
“Although we don’t plan to publish the David Smith Sculpture catalogue raisonné online (it will be published as a three-volume book, by Yale University Press), we may decide post-publication to turn on the public-facing features of our panOpticon database in order to share updates and new finds.
“We’ve found panOpticon to be a remarkably good partner, working with us to migrate the data from our old system, and willing to add features and customize aspects of the basic panOpticon system so we could make it work well for our particular needs.”

 — Susan Cooke
Associate Director / The Estate of David Smith
David Smith Catalogue Raisonné

Contact us to schedule a demonstration.


Above: Paul Cézanne in his studio at Les Lauves, in front of the Large Bathers now at the Barnes Foundation. Photo by Émile Bernard, 1904.

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Thomas Hart Benton + panOpticon

Thomas Hart Benton. Instruments of Power, 1908

the Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné project uses panOpticon tools

Born in 1889 in Neosho, Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton chose to follow a career in art, rather than politics, where his father and great-uncle, for whom he was named, had achieved prominence. Benton went to Chicago at age 19, studying at the Art Institute of Chicago for two years before going to Paris. There he encountered the work of artists such as Cézanne and Matisse, and the work of the cubists and synchronists, a group of painters who emphasized color as the means of creating form and energetic movement in their canvases. Moving to New York in 1913, Benton was producing paintings that displayed the principles of modernism he absorbed in Paris.

Benton continued to paint in a modernist mode until 1918, when he served as a draftsman in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Spending two years drawing realistic sketches and illustrations affected his style so profoundly that Benton abandoned modernism in favor of a more naturalistic depiction of his subjects, primarily American scenes. Between 1920 and 1924, he journeyed through the South and Midwest, drawing and painting the scenes he observed. By the end of the decade, his art was focused entirely on America and its people, and Benton became a leading American Regionalist artist, rejecting modernism as “foreign.” Using dramatic contrasts of dark and light and strong, mobile forms, his canvases burst with energy. These vigorous works mainly celebrate regional, small-town life, but his subjects also include Biblical and mythological scenes, often populated by what were regarded as typical American figures.

In 1935, Benton moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he spent the rest of his life, painting and teaching for many years at the Kansas City Art Institute. Benton’s art was well known for both its power and populist viewpoint, and he received numerous commissions for murals for public buildings, ranging from museums, to the Missouri State Capitol, to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. He had just completed a mural for the Country Music Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time of his death in 1975.

— Biography © American Art @ The Phillips Collection

Above: Thomas Hart Benton. Instruments of Power, one of ten panels from America Today, 1930–31. Egg tempera with oil glazing over Permalba on a gesso ground on linen mounted to wood with a honeycomb interior. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Gift of AXA Equitable, 2012 (2012.478a). Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 909.


We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné project uses our information management system.

Starting a catalogue raisonné project? Already have data and wondering what to do next? Simply have a question? Email us at

The best way to fully grasp what our product can do is to see it in action. Fill out a form to request a demonstration. We can come to you if you are in New York City. If not, we can demonstrate our software online. We’ll show it to you wherever you are.

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Willard Metcalf Uses Our Tools

Willard Metcalf. Garden of Dreams, 1908

The Willard Metcalf catalogue raisonné project uses panOpticon tools

“Willard L. Metcalf (1858–1925), born of working-class parents in Lowell, Massachusetts, studied in Boston at age seventeen with landscapist George Loring Brown and later worked at the museum school. Financial success as a book and magazine illustrator enabled him to travel to Paris and study at the Académie Julian under the conservative tutelage of Boulanger. In 1886 he was the first American painter to spend time at Giverny within the aura of Monet impressionists, but the new style seems to have had little effect on him.

“Returning home he spent several years as a portraitist and illustrator and taught many seasons at the Cooper Institute in New York. During these years he led a fitful personal life, with broken marriages and a record of alcoholism. In 1904 he withdrew from society and spent a year in the Maine woods, thinking, painting, and ‘drying out’. The effect was revelatory and gave fresh direction and motivation to his efforts. He called it his “Impressionist Renaissance,” and he became dedicated to painting the New England landscape with more vibrant, expressive brushwork and a more colorful palette.

“Now one of the Ten American Painters, he joined Childe Hassam at Old Lyme, Connecticut, for several years, moving the participants in that community from a tonalist to a more impressionist style. Several seasons were spent with the Cornish, New Hampshire, colony but generally he roamed throughout the New England countryside painting its splendors winter and summer. The “poet laureate” of the New England hills became his popular cognomen. Working often within an unconventional square format, he painted broad, light-filled, delicately colored views of the hills and villages of New England.”

— Smithsonian American Art Museum

Above: Willard Metcalf. Garden of Dreams, 1908. Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm). Signed and dated lower left: W. L Metcalf 1908. Private collection, Pennsylvania.


We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Willard Metcalf catalogue raisonné project uses our content management system.

Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

NYARC reaches across the globe

archiving websites for research communities across the globe

NYARC (the New York Art Resources Consortium) unites the collections of the Frick Art Reference Library, the Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library. With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Consortium was formed in 2006 to facilitate collaboration that results in enhanced resources to research communities.

Launched in 2009, ARCADE unites the collections of the three libraries under a single search. Containing more than 1 million records, ARCADE provides access to research collections spanning the spectrum of art history, from ancient Egypt to contemporary art. These resources, many uniquely held, include exhibition and art collection catalogs, monographs and periodicals, rare books, photograph collections, artists’ books, files on artists, auction catalogs, archives (textual and visual), digital resources and specialized databases.

ARCADE also links outside to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online catalog Watsonline, and to the International Art Discovery Group Catalogue.

A 2012 pilot study, also funded by The Mellon Foundation, demonstrated that the types of materials the NYARC libraries had been collecting in printed form were increasingly migrating to online versions available exclusively on the web. It concluded that there was an urgent need to document the dynamic web-based versions of auction catalogues, catalogues raisonnés, and scholarly research projects, as well as artist, gallery, and museum websites, because otherwise there is a real and imminent danger of a “digital black hole” in the art historical record.

panOpticon is proud to participate in this important documentation project. To date NYARC has archived six sites that use our software to power their catalogues raisonnés:

Paul Cézanne

Edwin Dickinson

John F. Folinsbee

Fitz Henry Lane

Joaquín Torres-Garcia

Jack Tworkov


Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

Hugh Steers CR Uses Our Tools

Hugh Steers

The Hugh Steers Catalogue Raisonné Project Uses panOpticon Tools

Hugh Steers (1962–1995) was celebrated for his allegorical painting that captured the emotional and political tenor of New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly the impact of queer identity and the AIDS crisis. Born in Washington, D.C., Steers studied painting at Yale University, and pursued a commitment to figuration throughout his career, cut dramatically short by AIDS at the age of 32. Influenced by historical figures of art, including Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, Paul Cadmus, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard, among others, he embraced representational painting and figuration at a time when such approaches were especially unfashionable.

Steers described his artistic perspective in an interview in September 1992: “I think I’m in the tradition of a certain kind of American artist—artists whose work embodies a certain gorgeous bleakness. Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline—they all had this austere beauty to them. They found beauty in the most brutal forms. I think that’s what characterizes America, the atmosphere, its culture, its cities and landscape. They all have that soft glow of brutality.”

While embracing the polemics of identity politics through his visual content, Steers’ emotionally charged painting took a departure from the more didactic work of his peers. The last five years of his artistic practice focused on AIDS as a subject matter, drawing on community experience and mixing dreamlike allegory with figurative realism. The resulting images amplify issues of mortality and isolation, defiance and compassion. Hugh Steers’ artwork is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Denver Art Museum.

An online catalogue raisonné of Hugh Steers paintings is currently in production under the direction of Visual AIDS. The project is part of Visual AIDS mission to preserve and honor the work of under-recognized artists lost to AIDS and cultural contributions of the AIDS movement.

We at panOpticon are pleased that Visual AIDS chose our innovative content management system for this important undertaking.

Above: Hugh Steers, Bath Curtain, 1992. Oil on canvas, 64 x 71 3/4 in. (162.6 x 182.2 cm), Estate of Hugh Steers.


Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

And check out our blog — catalog(ue) — a forum whose purpose is to help close the gap between traditional cataloging practices and the challenges we face when we use developing digital technologies to publish online.

Fitz Henry Lane Launched

Fitz Henry Lane

News Release: Fitz Henry Lane Online

GLOUCESTER, MA – The Cape Ann Museum is pleased to announce the public launch of its
interactive website, Fitz Henry Lane Online, on February 15, 2016. Fitz Henry Lane (1804-1865) is regarded as one of the masters of 19th century American painting. This innovative online resource is comprised of several components including: a catalog of Lane’s paintings, drawings, and lithographs; an extensive database of historical information, images, and materials related to the subjects within Lane’s pictures; new scholarly essays; and a bibliography and archive of publications. The rich historical material is connected to the relevant paintings through easily clickable links. The 319 works currently on the site include all known Lane pictures in public collections. The Cape Ann Museum holds the single largest collection of Lane’s works, and the Museum hopes that this website will function as a central repository for information about Lane and a key resource for anyone (student, scholar, or museum visitor) interested in 19th century American art or history.

According to Project Director Sam Holdsworth:

A primary goal of the site is to highlight the marriage of Lane’s extraordinary attention to the details of the scenes he depicted with the formal aesthetics and sheer beauty of his artistic accomplishment. Almost every work tells a multi-layered story about the evolution of the maritime world of coastal New England as well as tracks his progression as an artist from the specific to the ephemeral as his work matured.

The project will continue to expand to include Lane paintings from private collections and additional scholarly essays and historical materials. Owners of Lane pictures, and individuals with information about Lane works, are encouraged to contact the project using the online form or completing the object information and submission agreement forms:

In conjunction with the website, the Museum is organizing a special exhibition of Lane’s lithographs featuring works from its permanent collection and those borrowed from other institutions. This wiil be the first time many of Lane’s lithographs will be shown together. Drawn on Stone: The Lithographs of Fitz Henry Lane will open on October 7, 2017 and run through March 4,2018. An illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition and a symposium is scheduled for October 27-28, 2017.

The Cape Ann Museum, located in the heart of Gloucester, MA, celebrates the art, history and culture of Cape Ann—a region with a rich and varied culture of nationally significant historical,
industrial and artistic achievement. The Museum’s collections include fine art from the 19th century to the present, artifacts from the fishing & maritime and granite quarrying industries, textiles, furniture, a library/archives, and two historic houses. For more information visit:

This project has been produced by the Cape Ann Museum with funds raised in its recent capital campaign and with major support provided by the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, the
National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute ofMuseum and Library Services. Additional funding was received from the Danversbank Charitable Foundation and the John H. and H. Naomi Tomfohrde Foundation. The Cleveland Museum of Art contributed conservation studies
and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston provided curatorial and conservation assistance.

The website design and database software are by panOpticon.

Above : Fitz Henry Lane, Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844. Oil on canvas 34 x 45 3/4 in. (86.4 x 116.2 cm) Signed and dated lower right: “F H Lane, 1844.” Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy), 1948 (1289.1a)