Finding Art Images : Images in Books
Library Catalog book search hints
The Library Catalog uses Library of Congress subject headings that can help image searchers identify illustrated books on a desired subject.
1) One valid subject heading construction is in the form of "X in art" -- for example,
• birds in art
• food in art
• saints in art
• cowboys in art
There are several ways to discover these "in art" headings. One simple way is by trial and error. Type in guesstimated "[subject] in art" headings. Put your search in quotation marks to search as a phrase.
2) Another subject heading construction incorporates an ending of "pictorial works" -- for example,
• Costume--pictorial works
• Carnivals--United States--pictorial works
• Madison (Wis.)--pictorial works
There are several ways to construct a "pictorial works" search. One way is to enter [your term] AND "pictorial works".
Try limiting your search to books at the Art Library, since those are likely to relate to art and since most art books have pictures. For example, a general Library Catalog search for "crusades" retrieves over a thousand titles on that topic. Limiting those retrievals to titles located at the Kohler Art Library reduces the count to a handful of relevant books on art and architecture.
The physical description field of a bibliographic record includes information about the existence of portraits, illustrations, maps and plans within a book. Search for those terms or abbreviations such as: port. or ill. or plates or color. For example, looking for a portrait of Galileo? -- try searching for Galileo AND port. Look at the "physical details" information and analyze the likelihood that the book will contain what you need.
Once you discover a workable search strategy in our local Library Catalog, repeat that search in WorldCat to find similar books at other libraries. Use Interlibrary Loan to request books from other libraries.
Look in museum or collection catalogues
If you know what museum owns the work you are looking for, search the Library Catalog for a catalogue of the objects owned by that museum. Some museums are large enough to have many catalogues.
For example, a single comprehensive museum catalogue may be titled something similar to:
• Complete illustrated catalogue : National Portrait Gallery, London / edited by David Saywell and Jacob Simon
A large museum with extensive collections may publish several thematic collection catalogues, such as:
• Dutch paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
• Masterpieces of European painting, 1800-1920, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art
• European furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art : highlights of the collection
• Handbook of the Benjamin Altman collection (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
• Catalogue of the Crosby Brown collection of musicians’ portraits (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
To locate these books, search by museum name and browse the title list for a publication relevant to your search.
If the list of retrievals is vast, try mixing/matching some limiting search terms such as:
[museum name] AND collection?
[museum name] AND (catalog? OR handbook OR guide)
[museum name] AND collection? AND (catalog? OR handbook OR guide)
[museum name] AND catalog? NOT exhibit?
The ? is the MadCat truncation symbol, where catalog? = catalog, catalogs, catalogues, etc.
In the new Library Catalog, stemming is done automatically, so omit the ? symbol.
Look for catalogue raisonnes
When looking for illustrations of works by a specific artist, search the Library Catalog to locate books on that artist. A "catalogue raisonne" attempts to document EVERY work created by an artist. The depth of documentation in such catalogues varies; there may or may not be illustrations. Note that these comprehensive lists do not exist for every artist.
To determine whether UW-Madison owns a catalogue raisonne for your artist, search the Library Catalog for your artist's name along with title words or phrases such as:
• Catalogue raisonne
• Oeuvre catalogue
• Complete works of... (or Complete paintings of... or Complete drawings of..., etc.)
• Opera completa
• 全集 or "quan ji" (means complete works or comprehensive collections)
If you locate a catalogue raisonne that is not illustrated, it may still provide information useful for your image search. If there is information on the owning museum or collection, then search for museum/collection catalogues or museum websites that may give the illustration you need.
Search WorldCat and/or bibliographies on your artist to determine if and where such a catalogue may exist elsewhere.
Look in auction catalogues
For serious, in-depth research into works of art and reproductions of them, consider mining image resources contained within the sales catalogues published by major auction houses.
The Kohler Art Library has an uncatalogued collection of approximately 10,000 auction catalogues, shelved chronologically by sale date. If you know the date and place of an auction, you can browse the Kohler's collection for the catalogue. Be aware that our collection is very small, compared to the number of auction catalogues that exist. Auction catalogues can be difficult to obtain through interlibrary loan procedures. If a research trip is necessary, the Ryerson/Burnham Library at the Art Institute in Chicago has a large collection of auction catalogues.
Two ways to locate images in auction catalogues are as follows:
1) Use an auction index to determine the date and place of the auction at which the work was sold. Then look for the catalogue associated with that auction. Some indexes indicate (with an "R" or a page number) whether the object is illustrated in the auction catalogue. Not all objects in a sale are illustrated.
The Kohler Art Library subscribes or subscribed to several auction indexes (in print versions), including:
• Art Sales Index (online http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/security/landing-page.ai enables public searches with registration)
• Art Price Annual
• Mayer International Auction Records
• Gordon's Print Price Annual
(The UW-Madison Library Catalog describes years available and shelving locations)
2) Keyword search other online library catalogues to identify titles of published auction catalogues (e.g. "British art on paper: including a collection of drawings by Augustus John"). Once you've identified a catalogue of possible interest, check the shelves by date to determine whether Kohler Art Library owns it.
Libraries that facilitate online searching for auction catalogue titles include:
• Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago
• Ingalls Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art
• Frick Art Reference Library
These online catalogues allow you to limit your search to auction catalogues. You may also search WorldCat for auction catalogues, e.g. keyword search for Warhol AND Christies.
[Major auction houses now also provide information and images online. Some levels of access may require either free or paid registration and login.]