FINDING ONLINE IMAGES OR PRINT REPRODUCTIONS OF ARTWORKS
Searching for an online image or print reproduction is easier if you know the artist and/or title because most databases and print resources are indexed by artist and title. If you know where the artwork is located--the name of the museum or gallery--then you might begin with the web site for that museum or gallery. Remember that most museums don't have their entire collection available in digital form and that smaller museums often don't have much information available on the web, so you might also want to check ACORN to see if a print guide to a museum's collection is available here.
You should also check the searchable online databases listed below; these databases draw from many different collections and time periods. If a work is in a private collection, you may not be able to find it online. Thus, if you are not having any luck online--wherever the work might be located--then you will have to check the print resources listed below.
If you just want to browse through an artist's works because you aren't sure which work or works you want to write about, begin with the online searchable databases so that you can get an overview of what's available. Once you decide which work (or works) that you want to research, you'll probably have an easier time searching for secondary research material (such as critical analyses) in the three major electronic databases for art history: Art Abstracts Full Text, Artbibliographies Modern, and Bibliography of the History of Art. NOTE: these databases are restricted to Vanderbilt users only. Remember that you can search ACORN for books about that artist also.
Another kind of searching for an image or reproduction is to look for artworks on a particular subject or topic. Doing a keyword or keyword in title search (as most of these databases allow you to do) is useful if you wish to see works from various periods and artists on the same subject, such as a myth from classical mythology or a biblical story. For example, try a title search in Artcyclopedia for Moses (a free web resource), or a keyword search in Bridgeman Art Library for Venus (restricted to Vanderbilt users only). The most important print resource that lists works by subject is World Painting Index, or you can search Art Abstracts Full Text, which includes citations to reproductions in print material.
Another method of browsing to get an overview on a topic is to look at web sites that have thematic or subject-oriented online exhibits, so you can see examples of the still life genre from different periods, for example, or collections of art from the American West.
WARNING: Be sure to read about the copyright policies for each web site; most allow printing and/or downloading for personal use (such as for research purposes), but you should check the use or restriction policies for yourself. Also, be sure that you get the appropriate bibliographic information (such as the URL of the web site and date of access) to include in a works cited list or bibliography for your research paper.
Created by Martha Kallstrom -- 02/28/2002
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