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Fine Arts Subject Guide

Selected Reference Books

These sources can serve a variety of useful purposes for your research. Browsing resources such as specialized encyclopedias can help you identify interesting topics to research, while providing the background information that will get you started. Handbooks and dictionaries can help clarify unfamiliar terminology, while directories and subject bibliographies can refer you to organizations and resources that offer more detailed information.


Addresses for museums, art dealers, art historians, art schools, and art organizations.

International Directory of Arts
     Ref N50 .I6

The Official Museum Directory
     Ref AM10 .A2 O4

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

These sources provide biographical information on artists, art movements and iconography.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
Find background information, keywords, biographies, and bibliographies.

Oxford Art Online (includes The Dictionary of Art)
This comprehensive reference tool on the visual arts contains articles that are international in scope, covering prehistory to the present.
     Ref N31 .D5 (print version)

Dictionary of Women Artists, 2 vols.
Provides brief biographies on women artists with bibliographies and exhibition histories.
     Ref N8354 .D53

Encyclopedia of Latin American and Caribbean Art
     Ref N6502 .E53

Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects
     Ref NA40 .M25

New Catholic Encyclopedia 2nd Edition
This resource is "prized for its scholarly presentation of persons and subjects related to Catholicism and the humanities."

New Dictionary of the History of Ideas
This fully-searchable reference document encapsulates the thinking of different eras and cultures.

Oxford Reference Online
This collection comprises over one million dictionary definitions, facts, figures, people, places, sayings, and dates from 150+ of Oxford's central English and bilingual dictionaries, usage, quotations, and subject reference books. Can be limited to subject area, or searched across references.

Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Art
     Ref N6490 .P46

Yale Dictionary of Art and Artists
     Ref N33 .L353

Guides, Bibliographies, & Writings by Artists

Arts & Humanities through the Eras, 5 vols.
     Ref NX440 .A787

From Abacus to Zeus:  A Handbook of Art History
     Ref N33 .P5

Guide to the Literature of Art History
     Ref N380 .A75

Research Guide to the History of Western Art
     Ref N380 .K56

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art:  A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings
     Ref N6450.T492


Indexes are an excellent source for finding book and article citations. Also see "Find Journal Articles" for online resources.

Art Index
Located in the Reference Index Area and Lower Level Index Area

Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)
Located in the Reference Index Area

Illustration Index
     Ref N7525 .V3


Contemporary Photographers
     Ref TR139 .C664

Encyclopedia of Photography
     Ref TR9 .F6

The International Center of Photography Encyclopedia of Photography
     Ref TR9 .I24

Symbols and Iconography

Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art
     Ref N7560 .H34

Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography:  Themes Depicted in Works of Art, 2 vols.
     Ref N7560 .E53

Guide to Imagery (multiple volumes)
     Ref N7560 .G9

The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture
     Ref N7830 .M87

Materials to Assist with Writing a Research Paper

A Short Guide to Writing about Art
     Ref N7476 .B37 2003
Online:  Art History Writing Guide

Writing about Art
     Ref N7476 .S29


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Find Primary Sources


Guide to distinguishing primary from secondary sources.


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Find Journal Articles


CrossSearch  Fine Arts

  What does this box search?                                  Advanced Search

Search the following databases to locate citations and/or full text of journal articles. In some cases, the database will provide links to the full text of articles. If you see a WebBridge button next to an article of interest, click it to determine whether the journal is available in the Geisel Library or in full text via another electronic database. WebBridge will also help you request articles through Interlibrary Loan if they aren't available through our library. If there is no WebBridge button, search for the journal's availability using the Journal Finder. Journals listed as being in "Geisel Library Paper Holdings" are shelved alphabetically by journal title on the Lower Level of the library.

Core Resources

Academic Search Premier
A broad index providing abstracts and some full-text for a range of academic areas, including fine arts.

Search here for full-text articles from major journals in the humanities and social sciences, including Annual Review of Sociology, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Philosophical Quarterly, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Coverage is generally from the beginning of publication to within 5 years of the current issue. Geisel Library subscribes to five JSTOR collections. Here are their journal title lists:     Arts & Sciences I     Arts & Sciences II     Arts & Sciences III     Arts & Sciences VII      Biological Sciences    (User Guide)

ProQuest Central
A massive database covering a wide range of subjects, with full-text of scholarly journal articles, newspapers, and dissertations.

Other Subject Resources

APh:  L'Annee Philologique
This comprehensive index in classical studies indexes articles in hundreds of scholarly journals, books, dissertations, and conference proceedings on many subjects, including Greek and Roman art and architecture. Articles written in many European languages are indexed, but the interface language of the database is English. (1959–present) Earlier volumes are available in paper and are located in the General Collection PA29 .A5    User Guide    Journal List (English-language titles only) (PDF/76KB]

America:  History & Life
Provides abstracts to journal articles, book/media reviews, and dissertations with a focus on United States and Canadian history and culture from prehistoric times to the present. (1964–present)


Bibliography of the History of Art
The Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) is the world's most comprehensive bibliography of scholarly writing about the history of Western art. The BHA is produced jointly by the Getty Research Institute and the Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST) in France. Collaborations with several European and American institutions ensure a rich array of material available for inclusion. See list of journals indexed.

Historical Abstracts
Provides abstracts to journal articles, books, and dissertations covering world history from 1450 to the present (excluding North America).

International Medieval Bibliography   (On Campus Only)
IMB is a comprehensive index for Medieval resources.

Iter (Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance)
"Iter's bibliography covers all literature pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400-1700). Citations for journal articles, reviews, review articles, bibliographies, catalogues, abstracts and discographies are included. Also included are citations for monographs, and material published in monographs and collections of essays."     User Guide      Journal List

New York Times
"The New York Times (1851–2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue."

Project MUSE
"Project MUSE provides online, worldwide, institutional subscription access to the full text of more than 200 scholarly journals in arts and humanities, social sciences, and mathematics."

ProQuest Central
A massive database covering a wide range of subjects, with full-text of scholarly journal articles, newspaper articles, dissertations, and business and industry profiles.

Times of London Digital Archive
This database provides full-text access to every issue of The Times (London) newspaper from 1785 through 1985, except for Sunday editions. It can be searched by keyword and date range, with options to limit to specific sections of the newspaper.


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Find Books


Search the library catalog to locate books in Geisel Library. Artists can be searched as subjects or authors. Search by keyword if you are looking for books on a particular style of art. Arts related books are located on the Upper Level of the library in the N areas or in the Lower Level N (oversize) area. Links to full-text online books from e-brary are included in the Geisel Library catalog.

This library of thousands of e-books spans across all scholarly disciplines. Books can either be opened in QuickView for instant viewing or in the ebrary Reader (a downloadable plug-in), which provides enhanced functionality such as the ability to copy/paste, highlight, or take notes in a particular book.Access restricted to the Saint Anselm College community.

Below is a sampling of fine arts titles that are included in Ebrary:

At a Distance:  Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet
Careers in Art
Catawba Indian Pottery:  The Survival of a Folk Tradition
Digital Magazine Design:  With Case Studies
Elisabeth Vigâee Le Brun:  The Odyssey of an Artist in an Age of Revolution
Forget Me Not:  Photography and Remembrance
Paintings of Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588–1629):  Catalogue Raisonné

By searching WorldCat, you can identify relevant books owned by other colleges and have them delivered to Geisel Library for your use. The best approach is to perform Subject searches on the same Subject Headings that you discovered in the Geisel Library catalog. You can supplement this with Keyword searching on keywords pertaining to your topic.

When you identify a relevant book in WorldCat, you can click on the "Request via Interlibrary Loan" link in its WorldCat record. Books requested through WorldCat are usually delivered to Geisel Library in 7–10 days. You will be emailed when your book arrives, and you can check it out for a specified borrowing period.


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Find Images


Connect to ARTstor to access a half -million images and related text. These images can be printed for use in your paper, or included in PowerPoint demonstrations. Ask a Reference Librarian if you require assistance using ARTstor.

The Smithsonian Institution Cross Catalog Searching Center allows you to search across dozens of Smithsonian libraries, archives and specialized research units. Search over 1.7 million records, with links to images, video and sound files, electronic journals and other resources.

There are many additional resources for locating art on the Web. Using Google Image Search is probably the quickest way to locate art, but often the images are too small or the provenance is dubious. Most search engines offer tools to find images. Many museums offer searchable databases and have digitized much of their collections. The ImageBase of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has one of the largest free database of images on the Web with over 82,000 objects. The WorldImages World Art Database from San Jose State provides access to the California State University IMAGE Institute for Education and Research. It contains over 50,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery.  Art Images for College Teaching includes a wide range of images, mostly paintings, sculpture, and architecture, with an emphasis on the ancient, medieval, and the Renaissance in Europe.  Also see the Yale Digital Commons for over 250,000 images of fine art, manuscripts and items of natural history.

Many more small collections are being digitized and made available on the web. Search OAIster from the University of Michigan to locate more obscure images.


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Selected Websites

Searching the World Wide Web can yield a vast amount of information, but in terms of quality and reliability, your results may be uneven at best. The ease and speed with which individuals can publish information on the web, regardless of accuracy or quality, makes it imperative that when doing research on the web you know how to evaluate the information you find. To learn more, see our guide on Evaluating Websites.

General Art Information

Search for information on major artists, and art subjects and movements.
Daily newspaper devoted to art.

Images of artists' works and catalogs.

CAMEO:  Conservation and Art Material Encyclopedia
Artist's materials database containing chemical, physical, visual and analytical information.

Colección Cisneros
Colección Cisneros is an in-depth database reflecting the many dimensions of art from Latin America.

Intute:  Arts and Humanities Database
A web portal of the best Web resources for art education and research.

Provenance Research Databases
Search archival documents, sales catalogs and public collections for the provenance of a work of art.

Primary Source Documents

American Memory Project
Gateway to historical primary source material in digital format.

Archives of American Art
The Smithsonian provides roughly 16 million letters, photographs, diaries, sketches, scrapbooks, business records, and other documentation that supports the study of the history of the visual arts in America.

Digital Dada Library
Digitized dada-era periodicals and document.

Van Gogh's Letters
Van Gogh's letters unabridged and annotated, with many drawings.

Architecture and Design

Architecture and Building
Architecture and allied design fields database, including internet portals in the areas of construction, housing, planning, preservation, and environmental issues. Each entry has a brief annotation.

Cities/Buildings Database
Cities/Buildings Database is a collection of digitized images of buildings and cities drawn from across time and throughout the world,from the University of Washington.

Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture
Links and databases by topic; includes Primary Source links.

The online catalog and image database of the Architecture Visual Resources Library of the University of California, Berkeley.

Art History

Art History and Art
Chris Witcombe's survey of art history is organized by topic and movement.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline of Art History

Mother of all Art and Art History Links
Links that include research sites, image collections, online art, and general survey sites.

Art Terms

ArtLex Art dictionary
Searchable database of art terminology, including art movements and artists' names.

Art and Architecture Thesaurus
The AAT is a structured vocabulary of around 34,000 concepts relating to fine art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, and material culture.


Ceramics Today
This database includes searchable articles, galleries, and web links all associated with ceramics.

Chinese Ceramics
A tutorial on the history of Chinese Ceramics from the Pacific Asia Museum.

Clay Art Webguide
Extensive catalog of over 1,500 websites on ceramic work.

Internet access point to the vast world of contemporary and historic Japanese pottery.


See Geisel Library's Film Research subject guide.

Photography and Prints

American Museum of Photography
Links to photographic terminology and photohistory links.

Daguerreian Society and the Daguerreotype
Dedicated to the history, science and art of the daguerreotype, this includes a searchable database of daguerreotypes.

Prints and Photographs Online
This collection includes records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints and Photographs Division and other units of the Library of Congress.

Spencer Art Museum Printroom
Links to terminology with digital image examples.

Museums and Galleries

Art Project, powered by Google

The Currier Museum of Art

Frick Collection

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The Museum of Modern Art

National Gallery London

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Vatican Museums

Whitney Museum of American Art

Yale University Art Gallery


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Citing Sources

Work cited for classes in the Fine Arts Department should use the formats as described in the Chicago Manual of Style, available at the Library's Reference Desk (Ready Ref. Z253 .U69 2003). See the library's Citing Sources guide, which provides online examples for Chicago/Turabian.


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