IRIS logo

Project IRIS is a research initiative currently being developed at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, funded by the CAPES Foundation (Science without Borders Scheme, BJT-A), Ministry of Education.

IRIS is solution for concept-based image indexation and retrieval systems. Its purpose is to assign iconographic and interpretative functions to existing classification systems, such as Iconclass, improving its performance in terms of precision and new possibilities. The combination of IRIS and Iconclass produces a “proposition” in the form of an alphanumeric string which can be added to an image, as metadata. This paradigm allows users to make distinctions between signifier and signified (it will be possible to search for “a rose meaning the life of man”); to assign “syntactic” functions to the elements of a picture, according to the role of these elements in the image (allowing users to index and search for “a girl with a flower in her hand”, “a rose as the foreground figure, with a girl in the background”, and other combinations); and even to perform “negative searches” (such as searching for the figure of “a pirate without his left hand”, “a tree without leafs”, etc.) – among other features.

Project IRIS also involves:

  • The creation of an digital indexing assistant;
  • The indexation of 6 iconographic repertoires from the 16th-17th centuries;
  1. Horapollon. [Hieroglyphica.] De sacris notis & sculpturis libri duo. Paris: Kerver, 1551 | Link
  2. Alciato, Andrea. Emblematum Liber. Augsburg: Steyner, 1531 | Link
  3. Valeriano, Pierio. Hieroglyphica sive De sacris Aegyptiorum literis commentarii. Basel: Michael Isengrin, 1556 | Link
  4. Ripa, Cesare. Iconologia… Rome, 1593 | Rome: Lepido Faci 1603, Link
  5. Cartari, Vincenzo. Le Imagine dei Dei de gli antichi… 1556 | Padua: Tozzi, 1608, Link
  6. And a Christian iconography.
  • An iconographic study of objects from the Museu D. João VI and their sources, creating QR codes to link the displayed artwork and their print sources.

A paper detailing the project is currently being prepared for publication, but a draft version in PDF can be accessed here:

LEAL IRIS 20150613


See the presentation below, delivered at the Renaissance Society of America conference in Berlin (2015)


For a general introduction, you can also access this document (which is currently outdated)

For further information, please contact the Principal Investigador, Dr. Pedro Germano Leal



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