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Paintings in Wikidata, images and Christianity

This post makes a quick analysis of information in Wikidata about paintings (obtained on 29/2/2024).

926217 paintings are described in Wikidata.

We'll focus mainly on the 287350 that have an image associated by the P18 image property.

Among these paintings:

  • just over half of the paintings associated with an image are associated with a genre (property P136); there are 158576 of them,
  • only 7725 are associated with a pictorial movement (property P135),
  • 114102 have at least one content indication (property P180-depicts),
  • 47620 have a main subject (property P921 main subject) and 16026 different subjects are used.

For movements, the most frequently used is 'Primitif flamand', used 744 times; many movement indications are used only once.

The most frequently encountered genre is portraiture, encountered 60751 times. Next come: religious art (31868 times), landscape (23301 times), genre scene (9391 times), still life (6102 times); the following genres are used on less than 3% of works (less than 5000 occurrences) and a large number of genres are used only once.

The keywords (actually property depicts) are distributed as follows:

Virgin Mary4817
Christ Child4505
next, less than 2.2%moins de 2500

The main subjects are:

Vierge à l'Enfant2212
adoration of the magi648
Holy Family537
adoration of the shepherds461
adoration of Christ341

On these last two properties, there are many values that evoke Christianity. This is probably due to a number of factors.

Firstly, the creation of museums is a phenomenon developed in Western culture. As a result, many of the works referenced in Wikidata come from Western museums, where the majority of works are Western. As Western culture is historically marked by Christianity, this explains some of the values observed.

A second phenomenon adds to these historical considerations: intellectual property. A painting is considered to be in the public domain 70 years after the death of its creator and, with rare exceptions, the 'frontal' photographs of a painting are also considered to be in the public domain. This makes it easier to include works by creators who have been dead for more than 70 years. This encourages the presence of older works, from a time when artistic creation was more influenced by religion than it is today.

It's possible to analyze these different values automatically to highlight the link between these values and Christianity. For example, the subject 'Virgin and Child' (Q9309699) is a subclass of 'Virgin' (Q926743) which is a subclass of 'religious work of art' and has a keyword (depicts) 'Virgin Mary' (Q345) whose 'religion or worldview' (P140) property is 'Christianity' (Q5043). Depending on the subject or depicts values, the deduction may follow a slightly different path, but the link between the value and Christianity can be highlighted automatically.

Ainsi, l'analyse de la création picturale à l'aide de Wikidata souffre d'un biais important: Wikidata est beaucoup renseigné sur l'art religieux chrétien que sur toute autres formes d'art.

Note technique: ces résultats sont obtenus avec diverses requêtes dérivées de la requête suivant proposée en lien

Author: Moissinac

Maitre de conférence à Télécom Paris, Département Image, Données, Signal - Groupe Multimédia Jean-Claude Moissinac a mené des recherches sur les techniques avancées pour la production, le transport, la représentation et l’utilisation des documents multimédia. Ces travaux d'abord ont évolué vers la représentation sémantique de données liées au multimédia (process de traitement de médias, description d'adaptations de média, description formelle d'interactions utilisateurs). Aujourd'hui, les travaux portent sur la constitution de graphes de connaissances. Principaux axes de recherche actuel : représentations sémantiques de connaissances, constitution de graphes de connaissances, techniques d'apprentissage automatique sur ces graphes

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