Text over image in paintings

Monday, December 31, 2007

Ubiquity of Text-over-image in painting, to see this natural resolution is required

Painters surprisingly often used to apply text over.
'Text-over-Image' approach was popular with most of the cultures most of the times for thousands years.

In our culture text-over-image is ignored and regarded as something archaic, and as result digital images regularly even do not provide quality to see or read such texts due to inadequate image resolution.
I would suggest that each image has its own adequate resolution making all important details visible, but not more than that. One can call it natural resolution.
When we have images with natural resolution, we can find text over image much more often that we can image.
Here is one example:
Look at this Renaissance dated paintings of “The Last Supper”.
At first sight obviously there is no text over this image.







But when you look at this zoomed image of a detail of this painting (you need to click on it) – you can see that each apostle is named, but Judah.
Naming is equivalent of bringing object to a viewer or to eternity or both, as if they are the same.
Everything important to paint is important to name.

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Detail of the same painting Last Supper S.Petrus S.Johan Only one unnamed  - Judah

Detail of the same painting Last Supper
What is image annotation?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sumerian cylinder seal (2100 b.c.): image and cuneiform text

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Sumerian cylinder seal (2100 b.c.) depicts procession into the presence of god, cuneiform text at the right side Cuneiform text
Sumerian cylinder seal (2100 b.c.) depicts procession into the presence of god, cuneiform text at the right side
What is image annotation?
Probably earliest literate culture was Sumer in Mesopotamia.
In the image in this post picture is part of combined image text presentation.
This approach with Text over Image was popular with most cultures most of the time for thousands years.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ancient Egypt: Text and Image Integration

Ancient Egyptian art had the deepest integration of text and image. Probably over 90% of all images has some text comments, sometimes very lengthy and long.
This text-image integration may be results of hieroglyphic system when text by nature is an image, and image often n can be read as a text.
Similarly in Chinese culture long especially poetic comments are very typical for classical paintings.
Just couple examples (click to see more details)
This is a typical description of traveling through the land of death with lengthy commentaries – popular type of “adventure literature” in Ancient Egypt – univalent of current adventure/horror movies.

Other image shows that even sculpture could be excessively covered with text.
This sculpture provokes strange analogy: Could it be that popularity of tattoos could have similar driving desire to add text to a human body.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ancient Greek Art: example of the text over image - vase



Ancient Greek art is full of images having text over them.
Lack of adequate resolution of images hides text place there.
Just once example








Looking at this beautiful vase without special interest most users will not find any text.
Nevertheless participants and details of this scene are described in text place over image.
See details:







Friday, November 30, 2007

England 11th century, Bayeux tapestry, annotated images of English history

The Bayeux Tapestry (French: Tapisserie de Bayeux) is a 50 cm by 70 m (20in by 230ft) long embroidered cloth which depicts scenes commemorating the Battle of Hastings in 1066, with annotations in Latin. It is presently exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France. From: Wikipedia.org










Sources for images:
first image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Bayeuxtap1.jpg
second image: http://www.battle1066.com/pics/spears.jpg

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Byzantium, 12th century, Pantocrator, Church in Monreale, Palermo - naming in religious painting

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Byzantium, 12th century, Pantocrator, Church in Monreale, Palermo - naming in religious painting Name Jesus represented in Greek spelling as IC with tilde (sign over this letters) to show abbreviation and first part of the word Pantocrator (ruler of all - Greek) - Opanto Name Christ in Greek spelling XC with tilde and second part of the word Pantocrator - Krator Each saint painted here has a name written next to his image

Byzantium, 12th century, Pantocrator, Church in Monreale, Palermo - naming in religious painting
What is image annotation?


For religious paintings naming is very important and tradition of Christian Orthodox Church requires names written next to images of saints and others.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey, late 12th century - text glorifying sultan over image

“Stucco relief from Ravvy, late 12th century. It depicts enthronement Saljuq sultan Tughril surrounded by his officers. Directly beneath his feet is written ‘the victorious, just king’ and in the panel above are his title, interrupted atypically by the sultan’s personal name placed directly over his head”
Source of this image and text has been lost, sorry.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dialog in painting, 1333: words in an air - Simone Martini \"The Angel and the Annanciation\",

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Dialog in painting: Simone Martini The Angel and the Annanciation, 1333 - detail One can see text going from the Angel toward Virgin Mary written just over paintingLater this functionality will be implemented by scroll, and in comics with balloons

Dialog in painting: Simone Martini The Angel and the Annanciation, 1333 - detail
What is image annotation?


One can see text going from the Angel toward Virgin Mary written just over painting. Later this 'functionality' will be implemented by scroll, and in comics with balloons.
See next post for example of scrolls to represent dialog in painting in 15 century

Dialog in painting, 1425 - text on a scroll: Miniature \'The Dead Man Before His

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Representing dialog in painting: Miniature The Dead Man Before His Judge(manuscript The Rohan Hours), France, 1425 St. Micheal fighting for mans soul Dead mans soul represented by an adolescent nude Comment source: History of paintings by Sister Wendy Becket The dead mans prayer is in Latin: Into Thy hands I command my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of the truth Lord replied in French: For your sins you shall do penance. On judgment day you shall be with Me

Representing dialog in painting: Miniature \'The Dead Man Before
His Judge\'(manuscript The Rohan Hours), France, 1425

What is image annotation?


This medieval paining is precursor of representing dialogs in comics literature with balloons.
Here painter uses curling scrolls for texts repressing dialog.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Russia, 15th century icon: obligatory text over image


Icon in Orthodox Christianity is conceded to be not finished if Jesus, Virgin Mary or saints are not named.

Traditionally text over image is placed above or around the head stating the name of a saint.

Names are written in Greek or Church-Slavic language with very special style of writing and unique conventions about writing, making texts looking very different from mundane writings.

One of such conventions is the use of so called titlo (see more at wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titlo), which is used deliberately to write names of saints.

This Russian icon has been painted at the end of 15th century, and it clearly demonstrates described approach to naming.

Modern tags help to make the text more understandable.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

China 1667 - poetry over image



Chinese paintings very often use text over image, typically poetry
This is portrait of the scholar Tseng Ch'ing 1667

Friday, November 09, 2007

India Thakur Suratsinghji, 1725 - names over heads - immortality promised them

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Thakur Suratsinghji, Southern Rajastan, 1725 Name of a vistor Name of a king Characteristically servant has no name

Thakur Suratsinghji, Southern Rajastan, 1725
What is image annotation?

Style of writing names over heads of important persons is very similar as in ancient Greece or Orthodox Christianity icons

Related to this picture is my favorite quote in the history of art:

Akbar was the ruler of the
Mughal Empire from the time of his accession in 1556 until 1605. He is widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors.

It is sometimes suggested that prior to the Mughals there was no tradition of portraits in India. This of course is unacceptable, but what is true is that due largely to Akbar's desire to recognize those portrayed and the introduction of European portraits, Mughal artists developed a tradition of portrait painting that was a curious admixture of fact and fancy.
While the faces of the sitters were rendered with remarkable accuracy and expressiveness, the rest of the picture, including even the figure, especially of grandees and nobles, often followed certain established conventions that were meant to proclaim the stature of the dignitary.

That Akbar himself was directly responsible in encouraging his artists to draw faithful likenesses is evident from the following observation of Abul Fazal:
"His Majesty himself sat for his likeness, and also ordered to have the likenesses taken of all the grandees of the realm. An immense album was thus formed: those that have passed away have received a new life, and those who are still alive have immortality promised them."
(Source: Court Paintings of India 16th-19th Centuries by Pratapaditya Pal)

Russian Lubok (folk painting), early 17 c. 'The Barber Wants to Cut Off an Old Believer’s Beard'

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The Barber Wants to Cut Off an Old Believer’s Beard Source:  Russian text: Раскольник говорит Слушай цирюльник, я бороды стричь не хочу, вот гляди я на тебя скоро караул закричу Russian text:Цирюльник хочет раскольнику бороду стричь

The Barber Wants to Cut Off an Old Believer’s Beard
What is image annotation?


This is example of Russian Lubok (folk painting) at early 17th century.
Titled 'The Barber Wants to Cut Off an Old Believer's Beard' Painting is anonymous as most Lubok.
This lubok shows hot political issue of the period - Order of Russian Tsar Peter I to cut off beards which he saw as a symbol of Russian backwardness, while old believers (religious group inside Orthodox church) conceder beard as symbol of piety.

Text is extremely important and often part of many folk paintings, and paintings for mass users

Monday, October 29, 2007

USA 1787 Political propaganda - equivalent of combined educational TV, moralizing writing, and caricature

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USA 1787 Political propaganda - equivalent of combined educational TV, moralizing writing, and caricature as part of campaign for the ratification of the US Constitution Source:  Text: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand, Mat. Chap. 13th ver 26 Connecticut is symbolized by a wagon sinking into the mud. Its driver warns, Gentlemen this Machines is deep in the mire and you are divided as to its releaf -- .

USA 1787 Political propaganda - equivalent of combined educational TV, moralizing writing, and caricature as part of campaign for the ratification of the US Constitution
What is image annotation?


USA 1787 Political propaganda - equivalent of combined educational TV, moralizing writing, and caricature as part of campaign for the ratification of the US Constitution.

Good example of unnatural (too low) resolution – most texts and comments are totally unreadable (this digital copy is available at the Library of the Congress web site)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

El Lissitzky \"Beat the Whites with the Red wedge\", a 1919 lithograph

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El Lissitzky Beat the Whites with the Red wedge, a 1919 lithograph Red was a standard symbol of revolutionEdge was asupremtist symbol of something new White was a standard color of anti-revolutionary forcesCircle was s supremtists symbol for unchangeable Text in Russian (left side) Klinom krasnimMeaning: With Red WedgeRed is left: political color and position of communists Text in Russian (right side): Bey Belychmeaning: Beat WhitesWhite is right: political color and position of anti-revolutionaries Painted during the Civil War in Russia (1917-1921) between Reds and Whites Image source:
El Lissitzky \"Beat the Whites with the Red wedge\", a 1919 lithograph
What is image annotation?

El Lissitzky "Beat the Whites with the Red wedge", a 1919 lithograph is a perfect and famous example of using abstract art for very clear political message.

Text in Russian (left side) "Klinom krasnim" (Meaning: "With Red Wedge")
Red is left: political color and position of communists

Red was a standard symbol of revolution
Edge was asupremtist symbol of something new

Painted during the Civil War in Russia (1917-1921) between Reds and Whites

White was a standard color of anti-revolutionary forces.
Circle was s supremtists symbol for unchangeable.

Text in Russian (right side): Bey Belych (Meaning: "Beat Whites")
White is right: political color and position of anti-revolutionaries.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

William Blake (1757-1827) Laocoon: Manifesto over image

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William Blake Laocoon Source:

William Blake Laocoon
What is image annotation?


William Blake, a famous English poet, painter, and printmaker (1757-1827) created Laocoon as a sort of manifesto.

Laocoon is a graphic copy of the ancient sculpture, wrapped in Blake’s own philosophical text.

See some quotes from Blakes' texts below. Source:
http://penn.betatesters.com/laocoon.htm

"If Morality was Christianity, Socrates was the Savior.

Art Degraded, Imagination Denied, War Governed the Nations. Spiritual War: Israel deliver'd from Egypt, is Art deliver'd from Nature and Imitation. Hebrew Art is called sin by the Deist Science.

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian.

The Unproductive Man is not a Christian, much less the Destroyer. You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the way of Art.

A Poet a Painter a Musician an Architect: the Man Or Woman who is not one of these is not a Christian. The Unproductive Man is not a Christian, much less the Destroyer. You must leave Fathers & Mothers & Houses & Lands if they stand in the way of Art.

For every Pleasure Money is useless.
Without Unceasing Practice nothing can be done. Practice is Art. If you leave off you are Lost.

The Whole Business of Man Is The Arts, & All Things Common. No Secresy in Art.
Christianity is Art & not Money. Money is its Curse.

Art can never exist without Naked Beauty display'd.

Ceci n\'est par une pipe by Rene Magritte, 1929

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Ceci nest par une pipe  by Rene Magritte, 1929 Ceci nest pas une pipe (French) This is not a pipe - text here is a part of the image referring to the fact that painted object is not a real object. This painting produced huge amount of literature.

Ceci n\'est par une pipe by Rene Magritte, 1929
What is image annotation?


Here text is equally important part of painting as image, actually stressing difference between real object and painting.

From Wikipedia:
Rene' Francois Ghislain Magritte (November 21, 1898 – August 15, 1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. He is well known for a number of witty and amusing images.

A consummate technician, his work frequently displays a juxtaposition of ordinary objects, or an unusual context, giving new meanings to familiar things. The representational use of objects as other than what they seem is typified in his painting, The Treachery Of Images (La trahison des images), which shows a pipe that looks as though it is a model for a tobacco store advertisement. Magritte painted below the pipe, This is not a pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe), which seems a contradiction, but is actually true: the painting is not a pipe, it is an image of a pipe.
(In his book, This Is Not a Pipe, French critic Michel Foucault discusses the painting and its paradox. )

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pop-art classic Roy Lichtenstein, 1963 Whaam! Indistinguishable from comics - text is important part of message

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Roy Lichtenstein, 1963 Whaam! I pressed the fire control.. and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky

Roy Lichtenstein, 1963 Whaam!
What is image annotation?


This painting considered to be a classic and is reprinted in numerous art books.
Text is important part of the painting.
This is the text of a pilot:
"I pressed the fire control.. and ahead of me rockets blazed through the sky."