Project based at the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection from 1946 until 2000, culminating in an online database, now maintained by Humboldt University of Berlin, with support from the Warburg Institute, the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute), the Department of History of Art of the University of Hamburg, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Census offers a systematic documentation of antique works of art known to artists during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The compilation of this documentation was begun in 1946, at the instigation of the Warburg Institute’s first director, Fritz Saxl, the art historian Richard Krautheimer and the archaeologist Karl Lehmann. The first dedicated researcher was Phyllis Pray Bober, of the Institute of Fine Arts in New York. In 1957 Ruth Rubinstein joined the project, providing the Census with its London base. The work of transferring the ongoing research to a database began in 1981, under the directorship of J. B. Trapp, with support and collaboration from the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome under the direction of Arnold Nesselrath. From 1995, the work continued with support from the Humboldt University of Berlin, at the initiative of Horst Bredekamp. Additional funding and support was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

In addition to the online Census, the documented material can be consulted in the form of photographs in the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection and through the handbook by Bober and Rubinstein first published in 1986, Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture. A journal, Pegasus: Berliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike, published since 1999 by the Humboldt University, provides a discussion forum. 

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History of the Census project