Thomas Jones

View of houses in Naples; seen from a height, with tops of trees at right foreground

1782 Oil on paper


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British art history resources

A selective guide to freely available online resources for the study of the history of British art and architecture from earliest times to the 20th century. Launched January 2013.

It is planned to update this guide twice a year. Suggestions for additions should be sent to Jacob Simon, Editor, Walpole Society, at editor@walpolesociety.org.uk. Monthly e-mail updates, together with other news on British art history, are available to Walpole Society members by contacting the editor at the above email address.

Dictionary resources
Single artist sites
Thematic sites
Scholarly journals and papers
Exhibition catalogues
Sale catalogues and collecting
Collection catalogues
Collection databases
Books and manuscripts

Dictionary resources

Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851, originally published in book form, 2009 (Henry Moore Institute).

Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, a significant resource (Glasgow University, Victoria and Albert Museum and Henry Moore Institute, launched 2011).

British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2011).

Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, originally published in book form, 2006 (managed by Neil Jeffares, launched 2008).

British artists' suppliers, 1650-1950 (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2006, 3rd edition 2011).

British picture framemakers, 1610-1950 (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2007, 3rd edition 2012).

British picture restorers, 1630-1950 (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2009).

Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940 - lists work and biographies of architects, builders, and craftsmen active in Ireland between 1720 and 1940 (compiled by Ann Martha Rowan for the Irish Architectural Archive).

Dictionary of Scottish Architects 1840-1980 (led by the University of St Andrews, launched 2008).

Dictionary of Art Historians, covering historians of western art history (launched online 2002).

Database of 19th Century Photographers and Allied Trades in London: 1841-1901, compiled by David Webb; available for archive purposes only (photoLondon).

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Single artist sites

A selection from the wide and disparate range of sites devoted to individual artists and other figures of importance for British art history.

Catalogue of prints published by Alexander Browne, with an introduction to the history of mezzotint engraving in Britain (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2005).

Horace Walpole’s correspondence, searchable page images of W.S. Lewis’s Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence (1937-83), 48 volumes (Lewis Walpole Library, launched 2010).

The William Blake Archive, searchable access to texts and images (edited by Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick and Joseph Viscomi, launched 1996).

John Linnell Archive, texts and images from an exhibition, 2001 (Fitzwilliam Museum).

The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot, searchable transcripts of nearly 10,000 letters and other resources (University of Glasgow, continued by De Montfort University, launched 2003).

Ruskin Research Centre, with access to parts of The Works of John Ruskin and to Ruskin's "Modern Painters" and to some Ruskin’s notebooks (Lancaster University).

Rossetti Archive, aiming at the complete writings and pictures of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, archived 2008 (edited by Jerome J. McGann, distributed by Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia).

Lord Leighton's Drawings, catalogue of Leighton's drawings in Leighton House Museum and other public collections, with ancillary essays (Leighton House Museum, launched 2007).

Louise Jopling (1843-1933): a research project, to include a catalogue raisonné, selected correspondence and other documentation (University of Glasgow, begun 2005, in progress).

The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, an ambitious and well-designed searchable resource (University of Glasgow, 2003-10).

The Whistler Etchings Project, with a searchable full catalogue raisonné (University of Glasgow, catalogue launched 2012).

Connecting Whistler: Festschrift for Prof. MacDonald, with essays with a wide range of connections to Whistler (University of Glasgow, edited by Erma Hermens and others).

Simeon Solomon Research Archive, with documentation and art works (edited by Dr Carolyn Conroy, University of York, and Roberto C. Ferrari, CUNY Graduate Center, relaunched 2012).

Charles Ricketts & Charles Shannon, a research blog, full of information (driven by Paul van Capelleveen, Curator, National Library of the Netherlands, launched 2011).

Philip de László Catalogue Raisonné (registration site, managed and maintained by the De Laszlo Foundation, launched 2007).

A critical survey of the materials and techniques of Charles Henry Sims RA (1873-1928) with special reference to egg tempera media and works of art on paper, doctoral thesis by Jane Colbourne, 2011 (Northumbria University).

John Latham Archive, an idiosyncratic site hosting Latham’s online archive, Ligatus, and rooted in the artist’s own practice.

The Estate of Barry Flanagan, combining a catalogue raisonné with an archive catalogue, meeting Flanagan’s lifetime wishes.

Turning the pages - Helen Chadwick notebooks, making Chadwick’s notebooks accessible in digitised form to users with appropriate software (Henry Moore Institute).

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Thematic sites

Art websites, a selective list of art resources on the web (British Library guide).

British Art Research, blog featuring calls for papers, research events, exhibitions, etc, with useful links (edited by three PhD students, University of York). Including Researchers, a listing of current PhD students in the field of British art.

The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art promotes and supports the study of British art history and architecture.

The Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture identifies, records and publishes English sculpture from the 7th to the 11th centuries in a consistent format (Durham University, launched online 2012).

Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, mediaeval stained glass in Britain (University of York, Centre for Medieval Studies, part of an international research project, relaunched online 2010).

Making Art in Tudor Britain, scientific, technical and historical research on Tudor and Jacobean portraits (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2009).

Portraits of Lady Jane Grey: An Introduction, treating portraits of Lady Jane Grey, with an iconography (managed by J. Stephan Edwards, launched 2011)

British Printed Images to 1700, digital library of prints and book illustrations, mainly from the British Museum (led by Birkbeck, University of London, begun 2006).

The art world in Britain 1660 to 1735, publishing primary sources and research tools (led by Richard Stephens, part of project, Court, Country, City: British Art, 1660-1735, University of York and Tate Britain, launched 2011).

Pastels and Pastellists before 1800, including a dictionary resource (see above), extending beyond Britain (managed by Neil Jeffares, launched 2008 and renamed 2010).

Winsor & Newton Archive, with 87 manuscripts of recipes and notes for making artists’ pigments, oil colour, watercolours etc (registration site, Hamilton Kerr Institute, launched 2009).

Database of Mid-Victorian Illustration, images of literary wood-engraved illustrations published c.1862, with bibliographical and iconographical details (Cardiff University, launched 2007).

Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource, focussing on Birmingham's collection (Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, launched 2010).

The Camden Town Group in Context, with artist biographies, catalogue entries, thematic essays, transcripts of reviews and key publications and a selection of correspondence, sketches and photographs (Tate, launched 2012).

The DiCamillo Companion, a database of all country houses ever built in Britain and Ireland (managed by Curt DiCamillo, begun 1999).

Understanding British Portraits, a site to encourage research through an active network for professionals working with British portraits.

The Art of the Picture Frame, with articles on the history of picture framing in Britain and overseas (National Portrait Gallery, launched 1998, following an exhibition).

The frame blog, a blog mainly on British picture frames with short articles by various contributors (driven by Lynn Roberts, frame historian, launched 2012).

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Scholarly journals and papers

Directory of Open Access Journals for a listing of ‘free, full text, quality controlled scholarly journals’, covering all subjects and many languages.

Burlington Magazine Online Index, index to issues from 1903-2002, with work on subsequent issues in progress (registration site).

Henry Moore Institute Online Papers and Proceedings, showcasing developments in sculpture studies from inside and outside the Institute (Henry Moore Institute, launched 2006).

National Gallery Technical Bulletin, published in printed form since 1977, with a few articles on British paintings (National Gallery, now online).

Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, online journal of 19th-century visual culture, including articles on British art history (Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art, launched 2002).

Tate papers: online research publications, online papers, mainly 19th and 20th centuries (Tate, launched 2004).

Access to current and recent articles in some periodicals is provided to subscribers through publishers' websites (e.g. Journal of the History of Collections, from 1989, and Sculpture Journal, from 2005). Access to older articles in various journals is available by subscription through JSTOR.

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Exhibition catalogues

Photographic Exhibitions in Britain 1839 -1865, by Roger Taylor, originally published in book form, 2002, searchable text of over 20,000 records from 40 exhibition catalogues (De Montfort University).

Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society 1870-1915, searchable page images of over 45,000 records from annual exhibition catalogues of the Photographic Society, London, with reviews, etc (De Montfort University, launched 2008).

Winter Exhibition Catalogues 1870-1913, searchable page images of the Royal Academy winter exhibitions (Royal Academy).

Edward Burne-Jones: Victorian Artist-Dreamer, catalogue by Stephen Wildman and John Christian, originally published in book form, 1998 (page images made available through Google books, one of many catalogues from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, launched 2012).

The Fitzwilliam Museum: Online Publications, exhibition and display texts, some requiring large downloads, e.g. ‘Grey matters: Graphite’, a display on the use of the pencil in art.

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Sale catalogues and collections

For a fuller guide, see Art auction sales, sales catalogues and price guides study guide on the National Art Library website.

Getty provenance index, including indexed transcriptions from numerous British auction catalogues, mostly from the period 1750-1840, in cooperation with the National Gallery, London (J. Paul Getty Trust).

Hamilton Palace: a virtual reconstruction, recreating Hamilton Palace, including its collections (Virtual Hamilton Palace Trust, in progress).

Douce Blog. An Ashmolean Wordpress Blog, intriguing insights into the print collection of Francis Douce (1757-1834) (driven by Mercedes Cerón, Sackler Research Fellow, launched 2011).

Meyrick Visitors Book , transcription of visitors' book to the Armoury of Dr Samuel Rush Meyrick, 1820-30, relates to article published in Burlington Magazine, May 2009 (Wallace Collection). The download link is beneath the image.



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Collection catalogues

Collection catalogues are often linked to collection databases (see below). Users can gain access to published catalogues of the British Museum, Tate and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tudor and Jacobean portraits database, database catalogue with associated research (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2010).

British Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575-1875, catalogue by Katharine Baetjer, originally published in book form, 2009 (page images made available through Google books, launched 2012).

Portraits in Oxford, online catalogue by Annette Peach of portraits in Examination Schools and at Pembroke College (University of Oxford, registration required for access to Pembroke portraits, launched 2006, in progress).

Early Georgian Portraits. National Portrait Gallery, text of catalogue by John Kerslake, originally published in book form, 1977 (National Portrait Gallery, in progress, completion end 2013).

Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue, online catalogue (National Portrait Gallery, launched 2010, in progress).

Artworks (The Camden Town Group in Context), online catalogue (Tate, launched 2012)

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Collection databases

Your Paintings, publicly owned paintings in the United Kingdom (Public Catalogue Foundation, with the BBC, launched 2011).

Ashmolean Museum, subdivided by collection.

British Museum, with access to entries from most collection catalogues and some other detailed research information, especially for prints and drawings.

Fitzwilliam Museum, with some detailed research information.

National Galleries of Scotland, a growing selection.

National Maritime Museum, with some extended catalogue entries.

National Portrait Gallery, with access to entries from some collection catalogues and some other detailed research information.

National Trust Collections, works of art and books. Plus several Specialist Collections Guides.

Royal Academy, works of art, books and archives. Plus a listing of past and present Academicians.

The Royal Collection, works of art and some books with access to some detailed research information.

Soane Museum, access to various collections and catalogues.

Tate, with access to entries from most collection catalogues.

Victoria and Albert Museum, with access to entries from some collection catalogues and some other detailed research information.

Yale Center for British Art, works of art, books, manuscripts, archives and picture frames.

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Books and manuscripts

Arranged in three categories, access to catalogue information, access to full text and access to digital page images.

Access to catalogue information only:

Artists' Paper Register, finding list of archival documents relating to artists, designers and craftspeople in publicly-accessible collections in the UK (Association of Art Historians).

Art and artists' records held in the UK, guide produced by the National Archives.

The institutional archives and records of the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Paul Mellon Centre (papers of leading art historians), the Royal Academy and Tate.

Copac: National, Academic & Specialist Library Catalogue, union catalogue of over 70 UK and Irish library catalogues.

Access to Archives (A2A), union catalogue of archives held in local record offices and other institutions in England and Wales (hosted by the National Archives).

Archives Hub, search across a wealth of archives held at over 220 academic and other institutions across the UK (hosted by Manchester and Liverpool universities).

The National Archives Advanced Search, with access to some documents in digital form.

NAS Online Catalogue, National Archives of Scotland, with links to other sites.

Access to full text:

British History Online, core printed primary and secondary sources for medieval and modern British history, including the Victoria County History and the Survey of London (led by the Institute of Historical Research).

Access to digital page images:

The Getty Research Portal aggregates records for published art history texts, rare books, and related literature, acting as a union catalog of digitized texts held by various institutions or on various other websites, including the Internet Archive (see below), so providing free, downloadable, access to authoritative digitised art history texts in the public domain.

The Open Library, part of the Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine (permanent access to historical collections in digital format, delivered to a high standard and available in various formats from page images to full text).

Google Advanced Book Search, searching a huge range of books, with ability to limit searches by language and date.

Genealogical sites are not included here but sites used by the author of this guide are listed on the National Portrait Gallery site at www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/resources-and-bibliography1.php.

This guide has been generously supported by Lowell Libson.

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