This guide is intended to help you with researching topics in art history. Topics have been organized by date range if possible.

The databases below are good places to start for research in any art history topic; Artstor is a wonderful resource for high-quality, high-resolution images - perfect for when you need to provide examples in a paper or presentation. If you aren't sure about how to use a research database, feel free to ask one of the Library staff! We are more than happy to demonstrate a search technique or help you to locate sources for a more complicated subject matter.

Academic Search Ultimate:
Full text for over 9,000 scholarly publications in almost every discipline including social sciences, humanities, education, arts & literature, and many more.

Art & Architecture Source:
Contains over 750 full-text journals and more than 220 full-text books, plus a database of art images.

Our only database dedicated solely to scholarly literature with articles in the fields of history, politicial science, archaeology, art history, anthropology, literature and languages, music, and more; however, JSTOR usually is unable to provide access to the most recently published articles.

Project MUSE:
Project MUSE is a leading provider of digital humanities and social sciences content.

These open-source databases can be used for finding high-resolution images of art and objects, as well as photographs, manuscripts, and more. Many are provided by museums and other cultural institutions and are freely available to the public.

Archives of American Art - Part of the Smithsonian Institution; this is a collection of primary sources relating to over 200 years of American art history, including letters and diaries, manuscripts, photographs, and more.

Digital Scriptorium - A consortium of American libraries and museums providing free access to medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Digital Public Library of America - A repository of images, text, video and more from across the United States. This collection is freely available to the public.

Europeana Collections - Europeana provides access to millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records that have been digitized by European cultural and scientific institutions.

Google Arts & Culture - Google provides high-resolution images of art and objects from museums and cultural institutions around the world.

Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) - A portfolio of visual art collections from the U.K. comprising over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research.

Scholarly sources are the best to use for a research paper or any college-level work. But how to distinguish between a scholarly source and a popular source? Hopefully these tips will help to clarify.

Scholarly Publications:

  • Are written by scholars in a particular field, and present articles based on research in that field (rather than opinions).
  • Are often peer-reviewed, where the content published has been vetted by a group of experts.
  • Provide a list of references/sources used for article content.
  • Article titles tend to be more specific and describe the content being discussed, i.e. "Early American Blown Glass."
  • Publication titles tend to have the words 'journal,' 'bulletin,' or 'review,' among many others.

Popular Publications:

  • Are written by journalists and staff writers for a general audience.
  • Often have a great deal of advertising and may include opinions.
  • Do not include references to other published works.
  • Article titles tend to be witty and try to catch a reader's attention, i.e. "After the Scandal."
  • Publication titles tend to be short and non-descriptive as to the content, such as including the word 'magazine,' or have simply a one-word title.

If you are asked to include only scholarly sources for your research paper or assignment, the best place to locate these types of sources is in the Proctor Library's databases. Feel free to ask a member of the Library staff if you aren't sure which databases might be the best ones to use for your topic, or if you are having any difficulty finding the types of sources that you need. We are here to help you!

Prehistory - 3000 B.C.E.

Below are a few selected titles for topics dealing with prehistoric art, rock art, and cave art.

Megalithic Monuments

A monumental Neolithic architecture which developed in western Europe employing massive stones. Examples of this architecture include Newgrange - in Ireland - and Stonehenge, on the Salisbury Plain in southern England.

Stonehenge Complete
DA142 .C48 2004

Cave Paintings

Often dominated by images of animals rather than humans, beautiful examples of Paleolithic cave art can be found in northern Spain and southern France.

Cave Art
GN803 .B33 2007

Dawn of Art
QUARTO N5310.5.F7 C4713 1996

Rock Paintings & Petroglyphs

Rock Art and Sacred Landscapes

Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe: Signing the Land

Prehistoric Art

Prehistoric Art : The Symbolic Journey of Mankind
N5310 .W44 2003

The Nature of Paleolithic Art
GN772 .G87 2005

Image and Audience: Rethinking Prehistoric Art

Mesopotamian & Sumerian Art (see also Assyro-Babylonian Art)

The early civilizations in the Fertile Crescent were the first to build temple platforms (ziggurats) and to produce some of the earliest known written documents. Art forms of this time period often told epic narratives about gods and kings.

The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia: The Classical Art of the Near East
Call Number: N5370 .M6613 1969

Art of the First Cities
Call Number: QUARTO N5330 .A68 2003

The Graven Image: Representation in Babylonia and Assyria

Egyptian Art

Well-known for erecting the Great Pyramids at Gizeh as tombs for the pharoahs, the Egyptians also were prolific in sculpture, pottery and painting.

The Art of Ancient Egypt
Call Number: QUARTO N5350 .R63 2008

Atlas of Egyptian Art

Minoan, Mycenaean and Cretan Art

The prehistoric Aegean consisted of the Cycladic Islands, Crete, and the Greek mainland. Marble figurines, frescos, pottery and metalwork were artistic hallmarks of these cultures.

Minoan and Mycenaean Art
Call Number: N5660 .H53 2001

Aegean Art and Architecture
Call Number: N5660 .P73 1999

Persian (Iranian) Art

In 480 BCE, the Persian Empire was the largest the world had yet known. Carved stone reliefs depict life in the empire, and their fortified complex at Persepolis served not only as a ceremonial and administrative site, but as a vast example of Persian architecture.

The Lost Treasure: Persian Art

The Persian Album, 1400-1600
Call Number: N7283 .R68 2005M

Greek Art & Architecture

Marble sculpture, temples, painted vases - the ancient Greeks are well known for their contributions to classical art.

A Companion to Greek Art

The Complete Archaeology of Greece
Call Number: DF77 .B626 2012

Greek Art and Archaeology
Call Number: DF130 .P44 2012

Understanding Architecture: Its Elements, History and Meaning
Call Number: NA2500 .R68 2007
This book contains chapters on Greek and Roman architecture, among others.

Etruscan Art

Etruscan art provided the models for early Roman art and architecture. Most surviving works come from tomb chambers, covered with frescos.

Etruscan Art
Call Number: N5750 .S65 1997

The Etruscans: Their History, Art and Architecture
Call Number: N5750 .S6713 1983

The Etruscans: Their Art and Civilization
Call Number: DG223 .R5 1976

Roman Art

Roman art goes through several styles as it deviates from both Etruscan and Greek modes.

The Art of Rome
Call Number: QUARTO N5760 .A4813 1977

Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine
Call Number: N5760 .R36 2009

Roman Art
Call Number: N5760 .Z3313 2010

A History of Roman Art
Call Number: N5760 .K54 2010

Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome
Call Number: QUARTO DG55.S5 S535 2013

Chinese Art

Searching the Library catalog for 'Chinese art' should bring up a variety of both print and eBook materials, including some of the following titles:

Contemporary Chinese art : a history, 1970s-2000s / Wu Hung.
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (N7345 .W84 2014)

Emperors' treasures : Chinese art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei / edited by Jay Xu and He Li ; with contributions by Jay Xu, Fung Ming-chu, Ho Chuan-hsin, Alfreda Murck, Tianlong Jiao, He Li, and curators from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (N7342 .E47 2016)

Pathways to the Afterlife : early Chinese art from the Sze Hong Collection / Julia M. White, Ronald Y. Otsuka.
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (N7343.2 .W55 1993)

Japanese Art

The artist's touch, the craftsman's hand : three centuries of Japanese prints from the Portland Art Museum / Maribeth Graybill, editor ; essays by John T. Carpenter ... [et al.].
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (NE1321.8 .P68 2011)

History of Japanese art / Penelope Mason ; revised by Donald Dinwiddie.
Books, 2nd Floor (N7350 .M26 2005)

Theatrical world of Osaka prints; a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century Japanese woodblock prints in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Roger S. Keyes and Keiko Mizushima.
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (NE1317.P48 P485 1973)

Selected Resources

Islamic Architecture

Architecture and polyphony : building in the Islamic world today.
Books, 2nd Floor (NA2335 .A63 2004)

Islam : art and architecture / edited by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius ; [translation from German, George Ansell and others].
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (N6260 .I72513 2004)

Islamic architecture and its decoration, A.D. 800-1500; a photographic survey. With an introductory text by Oleg Grabar.
Books, 2nd Floor (NA380 .H5 1964)

Islamic Calligraphy

Calligraphy and Islamic culture / Annemarie Schimmel.
Books, 2nd Floor (NK3636.5.A2 S34 1984)

Ink and gold : Islamic calligraphy / Marcus Fraser and Will Kwiatkowski.
Oversize/Quarto Books, 2nd Floor (NK3633.A15 B474 2006)

The Persian album, 1400-1600 : from dispersal to collection / David J. Roxburgh
Books, 2nd Floor (N7283 .R68 2005)

Web Resources

It is important to use scholarly and/or academic website resources when doing art history research. Below are a few selections which may be helpful when doing research on Islamic art and architecture.

Discover Islamic Art - A searchable database and exhibitions for Islamic art provided by the Museum with No Frontiers.

Archnet - An open, online architectural library with a focus on Muslim cultures, provided by MIT Libraries.

Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture - Provided by a partnership between Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Islamic Middle East Collection - Hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, U.K.

Introduction to Islam - Provided by the British Museum.

Also see the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History for a variety of essays about Islamic art and architecture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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