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Lost Visions: Retrieving the Visual Element of Printed Books from the Nineteenth Century

Welcome to The Illustration Archive. The Archive was created on the ‘Lost Visions’ project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2014-15), and was the result of collaboration between humanities specialists and computer scientists at Cardiff University. Having developed an earlier online illustration resource, The Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration (www.dmvi.org.uk), the objective of Lost Visions was to make more historic illustrations than ever before available to the public in a searchable form.

Our motivation came from the fact that, despite their cultural importance, the images that adorned eighteenth and nineteenth century books have largely disappeared from view. Publishers rarely print Victorian novels with the images with which they originally appeared, while in museums and galleries, illustrations are low on the list of exhibition and conservation priorities. In a digital age, illustrations have fared no better. Although digital projects have potentially made these images available, they are not marked up or ‘tagged’ in a way that allows them to be found.

The Illustration Archive attempts to remedy this by making available and fully searchable over a million illustrations from works of literature, philosophy, history and geography that are in the British Library’s collection and were scanned by Microsoft. The Archive is intended to be a voyage of visual discovery. While developing the archive, the team came across beautifully-coloured landscapes, meticulously-engraved portraits and crudely-rendered advertisements. There is an illustration here for every occasion. They are just waiting to be rediscovered.…

Contact Us

We would love to receive your feedback and comments on the Illustration Archive.

Please contact us on illustrationarchive@cardiff.ac.uk


All book images which appear on this site have been declared "Public Domain" by the British Library, and as such are considered to be free from copyright restrictions.

Click here to navigate to the British Libraries page on copyright and usage of Public Domain media.

The bibliographic metadata on this site is derived from here, please check the associated links there for any usage restrictions.

Please contact us at illustrationarchive@cardiff.ac.uk for any other information required, and to let us know of any ideas you have to use this data. Perhaps we can help!

School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University

Julia Thomas

About Julia Thomas

Julia Thomas is Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University, where she specialises in Illustration Studies. She has published widely on aspects of Victorian and material culture including Victorian Narrative Painting (Tate, 2000), Pictorial Victorians (Ohio UP, 2004) and Shakespeare’s Shrine (2012). She is Director of the AHRC-funded Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration and The Illustration Archive.

David Skilton

About David Skilton

David Skilton is Emeritus Professor of English at Cardiff University. Having worked on the history of the English novel and on Victorian fiction in particular, he was one of those who in the 1980s began serious work to create the discipline of Illustration Studies. He has worked on the original illustrations to the works of Anthony Trollope, on whom he is an established authority, and has written articles on meaning production in literary illustration and on the place of illustration in nineteenth-century visual culture in general. One of his other principal interests, the art and literature of London, merged with Illustration Studies when he began to work on Gustave Doré's London: a Pilgrimage. He is currently contributing to a more systematic description and analysis of nineteenth-century literary illustration in Britain and France.

Nicola Lloyd

About Nicky Lloyd

Nicky is Lecturer in English Literature at Bath Spa University, having previously completed her PhD at Cardiff University and worked as Post Doctoral Research Associate on the AHRC-funded Lost Visions project. Nicky specialises in fiction of the Romantic period, with a particular focus on the Irish national tale and the interactions between Romanticism and Enlightenment, and has research interests in the digital humanities, book illustration and visual cultures. She has published articles on the Irish novelist Lady Morgan and is one of the authors of The Palgrave Guide to Gothic Publishing: The Business of Gothic Fiction, 1764–1835 (2016). She is also Associate Editor of the online journal, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780-1840.

School of Computer Science and Informatics, Cardiff University

Omer Rana

About Omer Rana

Omer Rana is Professor of Performance Engineering in the School of Computer Science & Informatics (Cardiff University), and leads the Complex Systems group. His research interests are high performance distributed computing, data mining/analysis and multi-agent systems. He holds a PhD in Computing from Imperial College (London).

Paul Rosin

About Paul Rosin

Paul Rosin is Professor at the School of Computer Science & Informatics, Cardiff University. Previous posts include lecturer at the Department of Information Systems and Computing, Brunel University London, UK, research scientist at the Institute for Remote Sensing Applications, Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy, and lecturer at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia. His research interests include the representation, segmentation, and grouping of curves, knowledge-based vision systems, early image representations, low level image processing, machine vision approaches to remote sensing, methods for evaluation of approximation algorithms, etc., medical and biological image analysis, mesh processing, non-photorealistic rendering and the analysis of shape in art and architecture.

Ian Harvey

About Ian Harvey

Research interests include interoperability of experimental and production data and computing resources, utilising scalable computing infrastructures such as Cloud and Grid Computing environments, and development of tools useful to the research community.

Advanced Research Computing@Cardiff