The Cervantes Project has created an innovative and unprecedented digital archive of images based on the textual iconography of the Quixote, i.e. interpretative illustrations included in published editions of the text. The archive provides free access to rare visual resources, restores the traditional connection between word and image, and facilitates a better appreciation and understanding of the impact of Cervantes’ masterpiece through 400 years, from several perspectives: textual, critical, artistic, bibliographical, and historical.
The collection supporting our archive is the Eduardo Urbina Cervantes Project Collection at Texas A&M University´s Cushing Memorial Library. In recent years, the Cervantes Project and the Cushing Memorial Library have acquired a large number of significant editions for the purpose of documenting the illustrated history of the Quixote. The collection includes now 1,172 items and is concentrated in 18th and 19th century English, French, and Spanish illustrated editions. At present (March 1, 2011) the digital archive contains 38,012 images from 703 editions. We anticipate the iconography archive will include over 40,000 fully annotated and searchable high resolution images, linked to editions of the Quixote in Spanish and English.
In all, the archive is designed to elicit new types of inquiries and new forms of textual, visual, and critical analysis. Its dissemination through the Internet, in collaboration with University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, will make possible a more complete and profound knowledge of the role, functions and diverse uses of the illustrations, and will help us better understand their contribution as visual readings in the historical response and critical interpretations of the Quixote.