Welcome to our research resources page

Below is a list of resources, online archives, catalogues, and libraries, which may be useful for curators and researchers working with collections of pre-1900 European Paintings. This list was compiled as a result of the SSN workshop held at the National Gallery in June 2016. A summary of the workshop can be read here.

I would very much welcome further suggestions for websites, libraries, and resources which I can add to this post – please email ssn@ng-london.org.uk and let me know what you find most useful in your research.

Some of the below incur subscription charges, but may be accessible through your institution or local library.

 

Provenance Research toolkit

Advice on approaches to 'Immunity from seizure' and other research projects can be accessed in our Provenance Research toolkit. This contains links to useful websites, recommended reading, policies and case studies.

The toolkit can be downloaded here. 

 

Online art collections databases

The RKD                                                                              

rkd.nl/en

The RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History is a global knowledge institute and the central resource for the study of Dutch and Flemish art in the international context.

The RKD manages a unique collection of archive, documentation, and library material relating to Western art from the late Middle Ages to the present. The nucleus of the collections is made up of documentation on Netherlandish art.

RKD Explore is the online collections database of the RKD. It allows you to browse all of the RKD’s rich collections in one simple search, presenting you instantly and free of charge with information on artists, reproductions of works of art, information about portraits and archives as well as the library catalogue. RKD comprises the following databases:

  • RKDartists& - biographical information about Dutch and other artists from the middle ages to the present day, as well as art dealers, art collectors and art historians.
  • RKDimages - descriptions and images of mainly Dutch paintings, drawings, prints and original photos pre second world war.
  • RKDportraits - descriptions and images of works from the portrait collection.
  • RKDlibrary - database of books, magazines and catalogues in the RKD library.
  • RKDcollections - basic information about archives and collections of artists, artists' associations, art traders, collectors, art historians, and restorers. 
  • RKDexcerpts - comprises c. 1,200,000 scanned index cards from the Hofstede de Groot Archive.

Oxford Art Online                                                       

oxfordartonline.com

Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today: Grove® Art Online, the Benezit® Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, The Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

JSTOR

jstor.org

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources. The database contains more than 1,900 journal titles, in more than 50 disciplines.

NICE Paintings

vads.ac.uk/collections/NIRP/index.php

The National Inventory of Continental European Paintings paintings database gives access to newly researched information about 8,300 pictures in public collections throughout the UK. The database is available through VADS (Visual Arts Data Service).                                                             

Art UK                                                                     

artuk.org

Art UK is the online home for art from every public collection in the United Kingdom. Previously called the Public Catalogue Foundation, Art UK works in partnership with 3,000 public collections, the BBC and other organisations to showcase the art the UK owns.

Art UK already features over 200,000 oil paintings by some 38,000 artists. These artworks are in museums, universities, town halls, hospitals and other civic buildings across the United Kingdom. Most of this art is not on public view.

Getty Research Institute                                             

getty.edu/research/index.html

The Getty Research Institute is dedicated to furthering knowledge and advancing understanding of the visual arts. Its Research Library with special collections of rare materials and digital resources serves an international community of scholars and the interested public.

Getty Research Portal                                                   

portal.getty.edu

The Getty Research Portal is an online platform providing global access to digitized art history texts, including, rare books, exhibition catalogues, auction catalogues, and related literature. The Portal is comprised of catalogue records that link to full, digitised texts hosted by contributing institutions.

Getty Vocabularies                                                        

getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies

The Getty vocabularies contain structured terminology for art, architecture, decorative arts, archival materials, visual surrogates, conservation, and bibliographic materials. Includes the The Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®.

Joconde

culture.gouv.fr/documentation/joconde/fr/pres.htm

Joconde is the central database for objects in the collections of the main French public and private museums, listed as Musées de France. It was created in 1975 and is now available online, maintained by the French Ministry of Culture.

Codart                                                                                 

codart.com

CODART is the international network of curators of Dutch and Flemish art. At present, CODART connects over 600 curators from more than 300 museums in almost 50 countries. CODART’s website is the main port of call on the internet for everything related to Dutch and Flemish art in museums. It functions as an information and meeting centre, a research tool, and as a guide to information and sources found elsewhere on the internet, such as museum websites, universities, and research institutions.

The Montias database of 17th century Dutch art inventories

research.frick.org/montias/home.php

The Montias database contains information from 1,280 inventories of goods (paintings, prints, sculpture, furniture) owned by people living in 17th century Amsterdam. Searches may be performed on specific artists, types of objects (painting, prints, drawings), subject matter etc. There is also extensive information on the owners, as well as on buyers and prices paid when the goods were actually in a sale. The database contains a wealth of information that can elucidate patterns of buying, selling, inventorying and collecting art in Holland during the Dutch Golden Age.

HathiTrust Digital Library

hathitrust.org

HathiTrust is a partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible long into the future. The mission of HathiTrust is to contribute to research, scholarship, and the common good by collaboratively collecting, organising, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge. There are more than 150 partners in HathiTrust, and membership is open to institutions worldwide.

Artists' Papers Register                                                                                

apr.ac.uk

A location register of the papers of artists, designers and craftspeople held in publicly accessible collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

 

Visual resource sites

Bridgeman Images

bridgemanimages.com

Bridgeman Images works with museums, galleries, collections and artists to provide a central resource of fine art and archive footage for reproduction to creative professionals. Every subject, concept, style and medium is represented, from the masterpieces of national museums to the hidden treasures of private collections.

 

Art market resources

Artnet                              

artnet.com

Artnet is an online resource for the international art market and a destination to buy, sell, and research art online.  Resources include a Price Database, which offers an archive of over 10 million auction results spanning over 30 years, including a total of over 1,700 auction houses and 320,000 artists; Market Alerts, which informs users of buying opportunities; the Gallery Network, which is an online platform that connects galleries and collectors from around the world; and more.

 

Newspaper and Magazine archives

British Newspaper Archive                         

britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and findmypast to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library's vast collection over the next 10 years.

The British Newspaper Archive contains around three million pages of newspaper content and includes news articles; family notices; letters; obituaries and advertisements.

The Guardian and Observer archive

pqasb.pqarchiver.com/guardian

The Guardian and Observer archive contains articles dating back to 1791.

The Times Digital Archive                                            

gale.com/the-times-digital-archive

The Times Digital Archive is an online, full-text facsimile of more than 200 years of the Times, with every page of every issue from 1785 to 2010.

 

Fine Art Library catalogues and Gallery archives

COPAC                                                                    

copac.jisc.ac.uk

Copac brings together the catalogues of c.90 major UK and Irish libraries (and growing). In a single search you can discover the holdings of the UK’s national libraries, including the British Library, many University libraries, and specialist research libraries.  Researchers and educators use Copac to save time in their research, to quickly and easily discover and locate resources, to check document details, review materials in their field, and assess the rarity of materials etc.

The National Gallery Archive Catalogue                            

nationalgallery.org.uk/archive/search

The National Gallery Archive contains records of the Gallery's activities from its foundation in 1824 to the present day. The archive holds public records generated by the Gallery itself, and private papers relating to individuals or activities closely associated with the Gallery.

The National Gallery Research Centre

nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/research/national-gallery-research-centre

The National Gallery Research Centre supports the Gallery’s research strategy and ensures that its research resources are made available to the widest possible audience, including both national and international visitors and digital users, as well as Gallery staff.

The Research Centre is open to visiting academics and post-graduate students from Tuesday to Friday, 10am-5pm. Visitors are required to make an appointment in advance. Visit the website for further information and contact details.

National Art Library Catalogue                           

vam.ac.uk/page/n/national-art-library

The National Art Library is a major public reference library for the fine and decorative arts. The online catalogue provides access to over 750,000 records.

The Warburg Institute Digital Collections

warburg.sas.ac.uk/library/e-resources-and-databases/digital-collections

Making out-of-print source material on Medieval and Renaissance studies freely available online through the Warburg Library catalogue and classification system. Entries are also organised in thematic collections to enable users to search by subject matter.

Gallica                                                                                  

gallica.bnf.fr

Gallica is the digitised library of the BNF (Bibliothèque nationale de France), for digitised French journals, sale reports, newspapers.

The Wallace Collection Library and Archives

wallacecollection.org/thecollection/libraryandarchives

The Wallace Collection Library contains approximately 30,000 books, including periodicals, exhibition catalogues, and auction sale catalogues. It also includes on long-term loan the De Walden collection, consisting of rare fencing books from the 16th to the 19th century.

The Wallace Collection Archives hold records relating to the founders of the collection and the history of the museum from its foundation in 1897. The Wallace Collection also collects archives which relate to its subject specialist areas of French eighteenth century art, princely arms and armour and the history of collecting.

The Wallace Collection archive catalogue is now available online and contains full descriptions of three catalogued archives:

  • Herbert Bier, art dealer: papers, 1912 – 1997
  • Samuel Rush Meyrick, arms and armour collector and scholar: papers, 17thcentury – 1884
  • Sir Francis Watson, former director of the Wallace Collection: papers, 1932 – 1996.

The Barber Fine Art Library                                         

barber.org.uk/libraries

The library is a specialist research level collection of over 50,000 books, exhibition catalogues and sale catalogues on Western art covering most of the major European schools of painting from the early Renaissance to twenty-first century, the history of collecting, and also some Byzantine art.

The collection includes:

  • Books and catalogues raisonnées, guide books and pamphlets
  • Exhibition catalogues, dating back to the eighteenth century
  • Catalogues of permanent collections from galleries around the world
  • A major collection of early rare Sales catalogues from major auction houses dating back to the late seventeenth century
  • Current subscriptions to Sothebys and Christies sales catalogues
  • Over 350 books published before 1850 on architecture, art topography, biography of artists and the history of collecting
  • Over 150 periodicals titles, of which approx.100 are current
  • A small collection of videos
  • Networked and stand alone electronic resources
  • A substantial proportion of items are in the original language of publication, mainly in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish
  • Rare catalogues acquired by Ellis Waterhouse

 

Family history records

Ancestry.co.uk                                                                 

ancestry.co.uk

1 billion searchable UK family history records. Ancestry.co.uk’s collection enables members to explore their family history using censuses, the fully indexed birth, marriage and death records, passenger lists, the British phone books, military and parish records.

Free BMD                                                                                                           

freebmd.org.uk

Free, searchable indexes of births marriages and deaths.