Question: How do I find information about an object and/or artist I am researching?
Answer: Follow ALL of the steps (I-III) below.
Step I. Finding General Information**:
**IMPORTANT - At each stage write down the full citation for each source you consult (include: author, title, editor if there is one, city of publication, publisher, date) & the exact page number(s) where you found your information. You will need this later for your bibliography and footnotes.
1. If the object is in a museum, look for a catalog entry about the object in a printed museum catalog or on the museum’s website (also often a good place to find a high-quality image.) SEARCH the collection for the name of your object and/or artist’s name (usually under a “collections” tab). Be sure to write down any sources cited in the catalog entry and add them to your bibliography so you can look these up later**.
Some useful museum sites are:
i. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (Met)
ii. Cloisters Museum of Medieval Art, New York City (part of Met)
iii. Museum of Modern Art, New York City
iv. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
v. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
vi. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
vii. National Gallery of Art, London
viii. Louvre Museum, Paris
ix. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
x. Accademia Gallery, Florence
xi. Accademia Museum, Venice
2. Oxford Art Online (formerly Grove Dictionary of Art) – this is an art encyclopedia with entries written by scholars, who are specialists in their fields, making this on-line resource more reliable than Wikipedia or a general art history textbook. This is a subscription site that can be accessed free from the St. Rose Library website. Go to databases, under letter “O.” The library should also have a hardcopy of the Grove Dictionary of Art in its reference area.
SEARCH for the name of your object and artist. If nothing turns up try looking for your general topic - i.e., Gothic Cathedrals, panel paintings, Renaissance altarpieces, etc.
AGAIN – Make sure you look at the sources listed in the bibliography at the end of the entry on your object/artist/object type to see if there are any sources you can add to your bibliography and read later.
3. FOR MATERIALS & TECHNIQUES – See the Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques. This general resource is available via an electronic resource link in the St. Rose Library on-line catalog. A hardcopy is also located in the Library’s reference area.
a. Some additional sources for the Medieval and Renaissance periods are:
i. Cennino Cennini, The Craftsman’s Handbook (orig. c. 1390), transl. Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. (New York: Dover, 1960 )
ii. Giorgio Vasari, Vasari On Technique (orig. 1550), transl. Louisa S. Maclehose (New York: Dover, 1960 )
iii. Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting (New York: Dover, 1956)
4. FOR ICONOGRAPHY: NARRATIVE & SYMBOLISM – Look in dictionaries of symbols. Here are some suggestions:
i. James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art (New York: Harper & Row, 1974)
ii. James Smith Pierce, From Abacus to Zeus: A Handbook of Art History (Upper Saddle River: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004 [7th ed.]).
iii. Donald Attwater, The Penguin Dictionary of Saints (London and New York: Penguin, 1983 ). For lives of the saints see also Jocobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (orig. 1275), transl. by William Caxton, 1483
iv. IMPORTANT -- If your subject comes from a narrative source, then YOU MUST READ THE ORIGINAL STORY. Some key examples are:
a. Bible (use the Douay-Rheims version, not King James!) http://www.drbo.org
b. Jocobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend (orig. 1275), transl. by William Caxton, 1483 – for lives of saints
c. Ovid’s Metamorphosis or Feasts of the Gods (1st cent. CE) – for classical myths
d. Guillaume de Lorris, La Roman de la Rose (Romance of the Rose, orig. 1237) – medieval romance stories
e. Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy (Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell, orig. c. 1300)
f. Giovanni Boccaccio, Decameron and Concerning Famous Women (orig. mid 1300s)
g. For other sources, see the Internet Medieval Sourcebook (Fordham University)
Step II. Finding More Specific Information:
For information about the artist (and the patron), if known– Look in:
i. Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists (orig. 1550, revised 1568), transl. by Gaston C. de Vere (1912/1915) –important primary source for artists living c. 1200-c. 1600
ii. Some later Renaissance artists, such as Giotto, Lorenzo Ghiberti (called Commentaries), Michelangelo, and Benvenuto Cellini, either wrote their own autobiographies or had other biographies written about them. Be sure to check to see if this is the case for your artist (mostly relevant for artists after 1300 – i.e., Giotto is mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy and in Ghiberti’s Commentaries before he appears in Vasari’s Lives).
iii. Artist Monographs – These are secondary source books (catalogs) focusing on the works of a single artist. They often contain (usually brief) entries on each of the artist’s major works. SEARCH – Go to the St. Rose Library’s website, under databases “W,” go to Worldcat (follow instructions for a Worldcat search)
2. For information about your object related to its genre (type) – Look in:
i. Monographs on Object Type - These are secondary source books (catalogs) focusing on the works of a single genre/type. They often contain (usually brief) entries on each of the artist’s major works. SEARCH – Go to the St. Rose Library’s website, under databases “W,” go to Worldcat (follow instructions for a Worldcat search). Some examples are:
a. Pope-Hennessey’s catalogs on Italian Gothic Sculpture or Italian Renaissance Sculpture or
Italian High Renaissance Sculpture
b. Huse and Wolter, The Art of Renaissance Venice
c. P. Humfrey, The Altarpiece in Renaissance Venice
d. M. Baxandall, Limewood Sculptors of Germany
e. J. Bony, French Gothic Architecture; etc.
Step II. Finding EVEN MORE SPECIFIC Information about your object:
1. Finding PRIMARY SOURCES about your object. These are firsthand sources from the time period, when your object was made. They might include:
i. Artist’s contracts and/or letters written by artist or patron about the object
ii. Artist’s drawings, sketchbooks and/or notebooks (published for Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and
iii. Biographies of the artist (i.e., Vasari’s Lives) – see above under artists.
iv. Texts written in the time period by people who saw the work. These may be hard to find and/or untranslated.
2. Finding scholarly BOOKS & ESSAYS in Books about your object – do a subject search for your object’s artist & title
i. Search the College of St. Rose library catalog (or do an “All Knight Search”)*
ii. Search WorldCat* [Tip: narrow search to “English” and “peer reviewed”]
iii. Search Academic Search Premiere* (may bring up articles in addition to books)
iv. If you find something you need and it is NOT available at the St. Rose Library or for download, then you
MUST order it using Interlibrary Loan* (ILL). Link to ILL is located on St. Rose Library homepage.
3. Finding scholarly ARTICLES about your object:
i. Search Academic Search Premiere* (some PDFs of full-text articles can be downloaded from this site – look for links) [Tip: narrow search to “English” and “peer reviewed”]
ii. Search JSTOR*. This is a subscription database containing full-text articles from ONLY peer-reviewed journals (but not all of them). Click on PDF for a downloadable article.
iii. To find out if you can access a particular journal electronically or in print from the St. Rose Library – GO TO library homepage and search “Journals A-Z” (tab to left).
iv. If you find an article you need and it is NOT available at the St. Rose Library or for download, then youMUST order it using Interlibrary Loan* (ILL). Link to ILL is located on St. Rose Library homepage.
4. If your professor provides a course bibliography. BE SURE TO LOOK FOR SOURCES HERE!!!
5. Finding high-quality IMAGES for study, presentation, or to include with your paper:
i. The College of Saint Rose has two image databases – LUNA and ArtSTOR – both are accessible from links on the St. Rose Library homepage “image collection” tab.
ii. Museum websites (see above) often have free high-quality downloadable images available for study. On the website you can often zoom in to see details.
iii. Web Gallery of Art (WGA)
iv. Wikimedia Commons (watch quality and copyright licenses)
v. Mary Ann Sullivan’s Image Archive, Bluffton University
vi. Medieval Stained Glass Photography Archive
vii. Digitized Medieval Manuscripts (DMMapp App)
viii. Gothic Ivories (The Courtauld)
ix. Real Virtual? Architecture (Columbia U)
x. Mapping Gothic France
6. A note about GOOGLE. This is an easy go-to search tool; however, not everything you find using Google is high-quality and little is subjected to the rigorous peer-review process used for published scholarly works. Always be suspicious of a source that does not name its the author (whose credentials you should always research) or include footnotes. Any information you find using Google should be verified in a peer-reviewed source before you cite it (same for Wikipedia).
*= see separate Library Guide and/or Toolkit Video(s) that explain how to use this database.
The College of Saint Rose Neil Hellman Library homepage is here http://library.strose.edu/home