Books | Articles | Dictionaries and Encylopedias | Web Sources

Starting research in a new or unfamiliar area? Be sure you visit the library when the Research Help desk is open! We're here to help -- just ask! Research Help desk hours:

Finding Books

  • search MORRIS, McMaster's library catalogue by Subject. Sample subject searches:
    • art italy (or germany, france, etc.)
    • art italian (or german, french, etc.)
    • art 15th century (or 16th century, etc.)
    • art renaissance (or medieval, baroque, etc.)
    • painting (or sculpture, or architecture, or mural painting and decoration, etc.)
    • michelangelo buonarroti (or leonardo da vinci, or raphael or bramante donato, etc.)
    • mary, blessed virgin, saint -- art
  • you can also try Subject Keyword(s), Title Keyword(s), and/or Keyword(s) anywhere

Keyword Searching Tips:

  • an asterisk * retrieves different word endings
    ital* gets italy, italian, etc.
  • use double quotes to find a phrase
    "leonardo da vinci"
  • use and, or, and not to combine words
    "leonardo da vinci" and restoration
  • use parentheses to group synonyms or alternative words
    (fresco* or mural*) and Florence

Finding Articles

  • use e-article databases to find articles on your topic
  • articles are good for recent, specific, scholarly information
  • to access e-article databases, go to the Library home page,, click on e-Resources and select Art; you'll find the e-Article Database links at the top of the page
  • want to search e-article databases from home? no problem - just use your MAC ID when the authentication box pops up


e-Article Databases for Art History

Art Index. 1984 - present
Citations to over 551,000 articles from over 370 art-related periodicals published throughout the world; coverage includes art, art history, architecture and architectural history, painting, sculpture, and more.

BHA: Bibliography of the History of Art. 1973 - present
Citations and abstracts for over 665,000 articles from more than 2,500 periodicals and books; covers European and American art from late antiquity to the present.

Arts & Humanities Citation Index. 1976 – present
A multidisciplinary index covering the journal literature of the arts and humanities, including art and architecture; it fully covers 1,144 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals, and contains a current total of over 2.5 million records.

ITER: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance. 1784 - present
Indexes journal articles, essays, books and reviews pertaining to the Renaissance and Medieval periods in Europe from 400 to 1700.

Historical abstracts. 1955 - present
Abstracts for over .5 million journal articles, books and dissertations from over 1,700 key historical journals. Covers the history of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada ).

Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

  • for quick facts, defining terms and getting an overview of your topic
  • all titles located in Mills Reference, 2nd floor

The Grove Dictionary of Art.
An encyclopedia of 41,000 articles covering art and artists worldwide, from prehistory to the 1990s. Includes numerous illustrations and detailed bibliographies; a comprehensive art reference work covering all forms of the visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, and photography.

Oxford Dictionary of Art.
A good general fine arts dictionary that includes articles on Western and Western inspired art movements, artists, history and terms.

The Oxford Companion to Western Art.
Entries on artists and their works, styles and movements, art forms and art terms, patronage, taste, theory, and criticism, materials and techniques.

A Dictionary of Architecture.
Entries on architects, terms, periods, and styles; a comprehensive dictionary covering all periods of Western architectural history.

Encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance & Mannerist Art.2 vols.
Besides biographies on all types of artists, from painters, illuminators, sculptors, and architects to printmakers and maiolica designers, patrons, and collectors, there are entries on styles, important art forms, cities, and in-depth surveys of all the fine and decorative art forms in Italy during the Renaissance and Mannerist periods.
N 6370 .E53

Encyclopedia of the Renaissance. 6 vols.
Contains 1,200 alphabetically arranged, signed articles on the entire cultural movement and period of history called the Renaissance.
CB 361 .E52

The New Century Italian Renaissance encyclopedia.
DG 537.8 .A1 N48

Renaissance art : a topical dictionary.
N 6370 .E27

Web Sources

  • Evaluate web resources critically; website publishing is easy to do and published content is often unmonitored and unregulated; for website evaluation tips, see Evaluating Internet Resources
  • For more good websites go to e-Resources and look under Arts & Humanities, Art; then click on Web Sites.

Art History Resources On The Web
Designed and maintained by Dr. Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, Professor, Department of Art History, Sweet Briar College , Virginia .

AMICO Library
Contains digital images and detailed descriptions for over 115,000 works of art from major museums in the United States and Canada .

The Grove Dictionary of Art.

Google Images

Web Gallery of Art
The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods (1100-1850), currently containing over 13,900 reproductions. Commentaries on pictures, biographies of artists are available.

World Wide Web Virtual Library: History of Art
The History of Art Virtual Library is a collection of links relating to Art History and computer applications in Art History. The site is sponsored by CHArt, the Computers and History of Art Group. This site is aimed at everybody interested in art, but it has a special focus on the academic study of Art History.


Last Reviewed: September 12, 2005