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Art history

Liaison librarian

  • Jennifer [dot] Garland [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-4785

Office Hours

jennifer [dot] garland [at] mcgill [dot] ca (by appointment)

Sources for Background Information


In print
  • 30,000 Years of Art
    folio N5300 A14 2007 (Ref)
  • L'Arte (2002)
    folio N31 A77 (Ref)
  • Art History: The Key Concepts
    Entries on over 200 terms integral to the study of art history and visual culture; each entry contains a definition as well as an examination of its history, use, and significance, with suggestions for further reading.
    N5300 H278 2006 (Ref)
  • Art History - Stokstad
    A two volume comprehensive synopsis of the history of art. Coverage begins with prehistory and prehistoric art in Europe and ends with the international avant-garde since 1945.
    N5300 S924 2005 (Ref)
  • Art in History - Silver
    A survey of the history of art, provides elaborate discussions of the artists mentioned in the text. Supplement use of this volume with Stokstad's two volume set mentioned above.
    N5300 S48 1993 (Ref)
  • History of Art - Janson
    Divided into four parts covering the Ancient World, Middle Ages, Renaissance to Rococo, and the Modern World. Deals with subjects such as the evolution of style, iconography, feminism, multiculturalism, semiotics, and deconstruction.
    N5300 J3 2007(Ref)
  • Praeger Encyclopedia of Art
    N33 P68 (Ref)
  • A World History of Art
    N5300 H68 2005

Selected Internet Sites

  • Art History Resources on the Web
    Over 7000 links to art history sites from all over the world and from all time periods. Additional links to museums & galleries, research guides, image resources, and online journals.
  • arthistoricum.net
    An internet portal for research and teaching in the history of art. Provides printed and electonic publications as well as image databases.
  • AskArt: American Artists on the Internet
    Produced by AskART, a team of art dealers, historians, and archivists. Provides access to auction records, image galleries, artists' bibliographies, and information on museum holdings and dealers.
  • Dictionary of Art Historians
    A scholarly database offering biographical and methodological information of major art historians of western art history.
  • International Research Portal for Records Related to Nazi-Era Cultural Property
    The Portal is a collaboration of national and other archival institutions with records that pertain to Nazi-Era cultural property.
  • Smithsonian Institution Research Information Systems
    Specialized art databases containing bibliographic records and selective images from the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Voice of the Shuttle
    The VoS mission has been to provide a structured and briefly annotated guide to online resources in the humanities disciplines and at the same time reflect the transformation of those disciplines as they interact with the sciences and social sciences and with new digital media. Related categories include: Art (Modern and Contemporary), Art History, and Archaeology.

Other Resources

Catalogues of Special Collections

  • Artcyclopedia
    Has compiled a comprehensive index of every artist represented at hundreds of museum sites, image archives, and other online resources. Provides references to sites where artists' works can be viewed online.
  • Art Guide
    "A comprehensive internet guide to the art collections of Great Britain and Ireland. [It] is organised by artist, by museum and geographically." More than 1,900 artists and 650 museums are listed -from the website [03/03]. online
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) Library Catalog
    Catalogue of one of the leading art history research libraries in the Western Hemisphere.
  • MoMA - Museum of Modern Art Library Catalog
  • Metropolitain Museum of Art Permanent Collection
  • Catalogue of the Library of the National Gallery of Canada
    Since 1968, descriptive cataloguing of French language publications has been done in that language. English and foreign language publications are described in English.
  • The World's Master Paintings: From the Early Renaissance to the Present Day
    A comprehensive listing of works by 1,300 painters and complete guide to their locations worldwide in two volumes. Vol. 1 - divided into two parts: One - index of painters; Two - painters and paintings biography, bibliography, important collections, and a complete list of paintings from the 13th to 20th centuries. Vol. 2 - divided into two parts: Three - locations and institutions bibliography, list of and guide to collections, with specific bibliographies, key holdings, and complete list of painters represented; Four - index of titles from the 13th to 20th centuries).
    ND40 W75 1975 (Ref) v. 1-2


  • Art and Architecture in Canada: A Bibliography and Guide to the Literature to 1981
    Provides the most significant contributions to the literature of art and architecture in Canada published between 1825 and 1981. Each of the 9,555 bibliographic entries is annotated in English and/or French, following the language of the citation. Subject areas are arranged by topic and by geographical area. Bilingual index by author and subject.
    Z5961 C3 L47 1991 (Ref) v. 1-2
  • Books on Art in Early America: Books on Art, Aesthetics, and Instruction Available in American Libraries and Bookstores through 1815
    A guide to art treaties, instruction manuals, and books related to drawing, painting, engraving, sculpture, artist biography, art history, and aesthetics through 1815.
    Z5961 U5 S35 2007 (Ref)
  • Bibliographic Guide to Art and Architecture
    Multiple editions (mostly in two volumes) listing publications catalogued during the previous year for each edition. It also serves as an annual supplement to the Dictionary Catalog of the Art and Architecture Division of the Research Libraries of the New York Public Library.
    Z5939 B53x (Ref)
  • Fine arts: a bibliographic guide to basic reference works, histories, and handbooks 3rd Edition
    Divided into two parts: reference works covering periodical articles and books published after 1830 to September 1st, 1988, and; histories and handbooks covering books published after 1875 to September 1st, 1988.
    Z5931 E47 1990 (Ref)
  • Guide to Art Reference Books
    A guide to over 2,500 reference works (pre-1958) covering: architecture; painting; sculpture; prints and engravings; drawings, and; the applied arts. Includes periodicals, series, and special collections for these subject areas.
    Z5931 C45 (Ref)
  • Guide to the Literature of Art History
    Bibliography addressing subject research in the field of art history. Divided into four parts: general reference sources; materials for the study of art history; literature concerning the various media, and; serials. The cut-off date for inclusion in this publication was 1977.
    Z5931 A67 (Ref)
  • Print Catalogue Raisonnés online

Liaison librarian

  • Jennifer [dot] Garland [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-4785
  • McGill users only
  • Open access resource
  • Free resource
  • In-library-use only
  • Catalogue record

Researching an Artist

General Biographical Dictionaries

Additional Resources

Core and Additional Databases

Find journal articles using these core online indexes and databases:

  • Art Bibliographies Modern (Proquest)
    ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM) Covers contemporary and modern art in all forms, from painting, sculpture and photography to video, body art and graffiti. From the late 1960s+.
  • Art Full Text (EBSCO)
    Covers Art, Architecture, Housing and Urban Planning. Indexes (from 1984) and abstracts (from 1994) articles from periodicals published throughout the world. May cross-search with Art Index, Art Retrospective (1929-1984) and Art Image Gallery.
  • Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA and Répertoire de la litterature de l'art (RILA)
    Covers material published between 1975 and 2007. For material published after 2007 see the International Bibliography of Art (IBA)
  • International Bibliography of Art (IBA) (CSA)
    Covers international scholarship within the following broad parameters: European art from late antiquity to the present, American art from the colonial era to the present, and global art since 1945; Visual arts in all media, plus decorative and applied arts, museum studies and conservation, archaeology and classical studies, antiques and architectural history, and related fields.

Additional Online Indexes and Databases

  • Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA)
    AATA Online is a comprehensive database of more than 100,000 abstracts of literature related to the preservation and conservation of material cultural heritage.
  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index - Web of Science (Citation Database)
    This citation database contains references cited by the authors of the articles. Use these references to do cited reference searching. This type of search allows you to find articles that cite a previously published work.
  • Design and Applied Arts Index
    Includes abstracts and bibliographic records for articles, news items, and reviews published in design and applied arts periodicals from 1973 onwards.
    Search the full text of articles in a range of journals. Coverage up to 2007.
  • ITER: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
    An online bibliography for articles, essays, books and reviews for scholars interested in the Middle Ages and / or Renaissance (400-1700).
    Contains the full text of Paul Oskar Kristeller's Iter Italicum : a finding list of uncatalogued or incompletely catalogued humanistic manuscripts of the Renaissance in Italian and other libraries.

Find journal articles using these print indexes:

Writing Guides

Image sources

NOT all images on the web are FREE! Read this important information on image copyright.

Top Online Resources - Locating Images

  • Art Museum Image Gallery (EBSCO)
    Art images and related multimedia from the collections of distinguished museums around the world (e.g. Louvre, Prado, Hermitage, British Museum, etc.); can be searched alone or in conjunction with other EBSCO journal indexes.
  • ARTstor
    This digital library features an easy-to-use interface enabling students, faculty, and instructors to select from a wealth of digital images. The charter collection includes over 300,000 representations of architecture, painting, sculpture,and photography from many major museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and George Eastman House, to name a few.
  • Getty Search Gateway
    The Getty has made available over 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose. These images are in the public domain.
  • Oxford Art Online
    The access point for Grove Art Online and other Oxford art reference resources. May limit to images only.
  • Réunion des musées nationaux
    A collection of images from the national and regional museums of France, including the Louvre, Orsay, Pompidou and the Picasso Museum.
  • Timeline of Art History, Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Timeline of Art History is a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, as illustrated by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. Provides theme specific searches, as well as general browsing.

Sources of Illustrations - Understanding Images




  • Bartsch's Organization of Prints
    • Le peintre-graveur
      Covers arists who worked between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Describes Flemish, Dutch, German, and Italian prints - engravings, etchings, and woodcuts. Organized by periods and regions. Includes brief biographical sketches and discussion of the artist's oeuvre. [Published 1808-1821, in French, not illustrated]
      Find a copy in the library [see volume 21 for index of artist names]
    • The Illustrated Bartsch
      Provides reproductions for the 20,000 prints described in Le peintre-graveur.
      First view index online and then Find a copy in the library or access online
  • Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings, and Woodcuts, ca. 1450-1700 (Hollstein)
    Find a copy in the library
  • Encyclopedia of comparative iconography : themes depicted in works of art
    Find a copy in the library
  • German Engravings, Etchings, Woodcuts, 1400-1700 (Hollstein)
    Find a copy in the library
  • Graphics Atlas
    Learn about the distinguishing characteristics of different printing processes, from woodblock to mezzo-tint and from photogravure to ink jet. These pages contain step by step instructions on how to identify the print process used.

Additional Online Resources

  • American Memory at the Library of Congress
    Provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. Includes section of materials on architecture and landscape.
  • Artefacts Canada
    Containing millions of collection records and close to 450,000 images from hundreds of museums across the country.
  • ArtNet Gallery
    Based in Switzerland, this online art gallery displays the works of current artists. Space on the site is purchased by artists and their work then is displayed along with information on medium, dimensions, price, and the names of individual works. No search platform is provided, although the collection is fairly small and, therefore, easy to browse by artwork type and artist name.
  • Art Images for College Teachers
    A non-profit project of the author Allan T. Kohl, art historian and visual resources curator. AICT is intended primarily to disseminate images of art and architectural works in the public domain on a free-access, free-use basis to all levels of the educational community, as well as to the public. Emphasis is on ancient, medieval, and Renaissance European art and architecture but also includes examples of post-Renaissance and "non-Western" works.
  • Art Resource
    The world’s largest photo archive of fine art, offers a range of material from prehistoric times to the present. Art Resource carries the works of almost every major museum in Europe, and functions as the official rights and permissions representative for many institutions in the United States and abroad. These are not free images, but watermarked thumbnails are available.
  • The Beazley Archive
    This database is the largest single collection of images (over 27,000)from Greek vases, and is excellently indexed, not only by painter, vase shape, location, etc. but by subject. A good place to find images from both classical myths and from everyday life, with full scholarly apparatus.
  • Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec
    Over 7000 photographs and illustrations of Quebec between 1870 —1907, drawn from 3 Quebec periodicals published at the time: L'Opinion publique, Le Monde illustré et L'Album universel.
  • Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
    A reference database including information and profiles of more than 700 Canadian visual and media artists, graphic designers, and writers. Searchable by title of art work.
  • "Cybermuse" at the National Gallery of Canada
    Over 10,000 images of works of the Gallery's permanent collection, video and audio recordings of world renowned artists, showcases of special exhibits, and virtual tours. Browse the artist index or search the site by keyword, artist name, or title of artwork.
  • Index of Christian Art Database
    A database providing partial but growing access to bibliographic records in the Index of Christian Art, an active project which started in 1917 at Princeton University with the aim of producing a thematic/iconographic index of art objects from the Early Christian and Medieval periods.
  • Society of Architectural Historians: Image Exchange
    A world survey set of digital images, based on an overlap among the illustration sets in some commonly used architecture textbooks. Includes a collection of Ancient through Medieval works and early non-Europe and Renaissance through Modern works.
  • 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 (1100-1800), currently containing over 12,400 reproductions".
  • WorldImages
    "Provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It contains over 60,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. WorldImages is accessible anywhere and its images may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes."

Image Sources

  • Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters
    A list of painters of Attic black-figure vases, arranged chronologically and by group, with the works signed by or attributed to them as understood by Beazley in 1956. With simple indexes by museum, iconography, publication.
  • Barockthemen
    Lists works of art depicting specific themes popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Entries include very brief descriptions, citations to bibliographical references about the works, and sources of illustrations. Volume one covers religious subjects, volume two profane subjects.
    N6410 P53 1956 (Ref) v. 1-2
  • The Black Artist in America: An Index to Reproductions
    Indexes reproductions of fine art, prints, drawings, collages, assemblages, and other media from black artists. The index also includes biographical information on the artist and reproductions of their portraits. Includes those born and those who made their home in America, from the Colonial period to the present. Also included in the text are lists of books, journal articles, bibliographies, doctoral dissertation, audiovisual materials and exhibition catalogues which pertain to Black art and artists as well as a subject index.
  • Illustration Index
    Index to illustrations including: furniture; wildlife; art works, and; individual personalities. Each illustration is treated separately allowing for more thorough subject coverage.
  • Index to Art Reproductions in Books
    A finding aid for the location of reproductions in some excellent art books published during the 1950s to the 1970s.
  • Index of Early Chinese Painters and Painting: Tang, Sung, and Yüan
    Indexes the paintings of the Tang, Sung, and Yüan periods in English transliteration and Chinese language publications. Information on present ownership, reproduction sources, artist information, and painting type, date and assessment are presented, as is a bibliography.
  • Index to Reproductions of American Paintings
    Lists the work of artists occurring in 520 books and in more than 300 catalogues. The paintings are entered under name, title, and occasionally subject. Locations of pictures in permanent collections have also been provided whenever this information was available.
  • Index to Reproductions of European Paintings
    A guide to pictures by European artists that are reproduced in 328 books. The paintings are entered under name, distinctive title, and occasionally subject. Whenever permanent locations could be determined, this information has been included.
  • An Index to Reproductions of Paintings by Twentieth-Century Chinese Artists
    First published in 1984, this index of Chinese paintings includes entries for approximately 3,500 traditional-style artists along with lists of their works, reproduced in some 264 monographs, books, journals, and catalogs published from the 1920s to the 1980s.
  • Index to Two Dimensional Artworks
    Indexes 35,000 reproductions of two dimensional art in all media, including etchings, tapestries and drawings. Volume 1 is an artist index. Volume 2 is a title subject index.
  • Marburger Index
    A microfiche catalogue of fine art and architecture in Germany from the Bildarchiv Foto Marburg. Photographs of works of art in German institutions. German and foreign art. Photographs from 1850 to the present. Also includes some works from primitive art onward found in German institutions. Use this source in conjunction with ICONCLASS, an iconographic classification system.
  • Mythological and Classical World Art Index
    Includes index of figures and artists as well as a bibliography and an institutional directory.
  • Sculpture Index
    A guide to pictures of sculpture from about 950 selected publications that may be found in public, college, and special libraries. Vol. 1 - Sculpture of Europe and the Contemporary Middle East, and Vol. 2 - Sculpture of Americas, Orient, Africa, Pacific Area, and Classical World. Also provides an extensive list of sculptors, locations of sculptured works, and titles of works by sculptor.
  • The World's Master Paintings
    The history of painting in the western tradition is compiled in this two volume work. Volume 1 is an index to painters. Volume 2 is an index to institutions/collections and titles.
  • World Painting Index
    Provides the user with a tool for locating reproductions of paintings in books and catalogs published between 1940 up to early 1975. Comes with supplements, the first supplement covering 1973 -1980, the second covering 1980 - 1989.


Primary resources

Online collections

Electronic Resources for Finding Primary Documents (selected)

Additional online resources:

  • British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries 1500-1950
  • Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1960 A collection of papers generated by Britain's Foreign and Colonial Offices, in reference to the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. Includes references to the railway, trade, slavery, military and finance. [Adam Matthew Digital]
  • Defining Gender "Original source material from British and European archives for those studying history, literature, sociology, education and cultural studies from a gendered perspective."
  • Early Encounters in North America, 1534-1860 [Alexander Street Press]
  • Empire Online Includes archival material from 1492-2007: "Exploration journals and logs; Letter books and correspondence; Periodicals; Diaries; Official Government Papers; Missionary papers; Travel writing; Slave papers; Memoirs; Fiction; Children's Adventure Stories; Traditional; folk tales; Exhibition Catalogues and guides; Maps; Marketing Posters; Photographs; and Illustrations..." [Adam Matthew Digital]
  • Global Commodities: Trade, Exploration, and Cultural Exchange "This project focuses on fifteen significant commodities [sugar, tea, cotton, fur] whose stories are often intertwined....Each commodity is documented through a wide range of manuscript materials, maps, posters, paintings, photographs, ephemera, objects and rare books so that the student can explore the origins of the commodity, their first uses, the trade that developed and the ways in which these items were marketed and consumed. The project touches on themes of exploration and discovery; imperialism and attempts at monopoly; trade Wars; translocation and economic geography; slavery; mass production; luxury; taste; and the evolution of global branding." [Adam Matthew Digital]
  • Making of the Modern World [Gale] "Tracks the development of the modern, western world through the lens of trade and wealth."
  • Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice, 1490-2007 [Adam Matthew Digital]
  • Travel Writing, Spectacle and World History [Adam Matthew Digital]

Historical newspapers

Historical Newspapers (Full text and indexes)

  • This page (scroll to bottom) provides a list of online historical newspapers including: The New York Times, 1851-2007; Early American Newspapers, 1690-1876; The Globe and Mail, 1844-2009. Search the library catalogue for additional titles - these may be available online, on microfilm, or in print.
  • Quebec Historical Newspapers From the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BANQ)

McGill Rare Books, Special Collections and Archives


Rare Books: The primary holdings are in the humanities and social sciences and in particular art and architecture, Canadiana, history, literature, the history of ideas (philosophy and religion), travel and exploration (including maps), and the history of the book form the core of the collection. Read the collection descriptions for more information.

Archives: The institutional records of McGill University (administrative bodies; faculties; colleges and schools; associated institutions) as well as selected private papers of staff and alumni (including material related to war and military; culture, literature, and arts; religion; politics; and travel). Large online collection of photographs.


Located on the 4th floor of McLennan Library Building. All material is consulted in the rare books reading room. Bring your student ID (and a sweater or scarf - we keep the temperature cool and the humidity controlled to preserve the books!).


Opening hours


Rare Books: Appointments are not necessary. A large portion of the collection is listed in the library online catalogue*. For other materials, readers should consult the Library's staff who can provide assistance in providing finding aids. Be sure to review the collection descriptions for an overview of library holdings.
*Note that this link points you specifically to the special collections catalogue - i.e. limits to rare books to make your search easier

Archives: Consult the website. The on-line sources provide a range of possible starting points for your research. Once you have found information that you would like to view, make a note of the particular files or items, and record all the information that appears with the item, including any number or codes. Please submit your request to refdesk [dot] archives [at] mcgill [dot] ca for an appointment.

Local resources - selected Montreal museums and libraries

McCord Museum

  • Many collections available online
  • The Archives and Documentation Centre collects a wide array of resources on various aspects of Canadian life, culture and society, including material culture, anthropology, the history of art and photography, and social history.
  • Open by appointment: Tuesdays to Thurdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

City of Montreal Archives

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ)


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