Image Resources

This list contains links and descriptions of image databases that may be related to your research at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and that keep with high standards of academic and visual content.

Many museums and institutions are creating rich databases of their collections which often include high quality images and descriptions of works owned.  We have listed some of these collection databases here, but if you are doing object research on a work housed in another museum, be sure to check their website for a collection search/database.

Subscription Databases

Searchable database of more than 1,000,000 digital images. Artstor covers many time periods and cultures, and documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design, as well as many other forms of visual culture. Users can search, view and download images.

Berg Fashion Library
Berg Fashion Library is the only resource to provide integrated text and image content on world dress and fashion throughout history. It includes the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, an extensive E-Book collection, a vast image bank, extra reference resources and more. This resource is available remotely for free through New York Public Library but you must have an NYPL borrower card to access.

Over 300,000 images from 2,000 sources and 30,000 artists with accompanying metadata. Users are able to search all media including photography, fine art, engravings, sculpture, architecture, archaeology & ethnography, history, science & medicine, decorative arts and artifacts.

Oxford Art Online (Image Search)
Oxford Art online gives users access to more than 40,000 image links and 5,500 images contained within Grove Art Online, as well as access to more than 5,000 entries and 500 images from the Oxford Companion to Western Art, the Concise Dictionary of Art Terms, and Oxford’s Encyclopedia of Aesthetics.

Image Databases (non-subscription/ free)

American Memory from the Library of Congress Online:
Search the photographs and prints database to access images from 67 collections. This database includes many images, some very good texts and pamphlets, and legal documents.

Art Resource
Art Resource is a searchable image database of over 400,000 images of fine art from major museums in Europe and the US.   Create a log in username and password for free.

Arts Council Collection
Arts Council Collection is now the largest national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art in the world, and includes fine examples of work by all of this country’s most prominent artists. The online database may be browsed or searched using various criteria such as artist name, format, time period.

Atlas is the Louvre’s image database with over 30,000 searchable works.

The British Museum Collection Database
This robust database has nearly two million searchable images from the rich collection at the British Museum.

Connecticut College Art Collections
Connecticut College owns a large collection of artwork that includes American Art before 1945, American Art after 1945, European Art before 1945, African Art, Asian Art and a large collection of prints from Rembrandt to Dürer. 

Digital South Asia Library, Images section  
This collection of images is based on six collections: American Institute of Indian Studies which includes over 125,000 photographs of sculpture, terracotta, painting, architecture and numismatics; Government College of Arts and Crafts from the Museum of Contemporary Art(Chennai) is a collection of photographs dated from the mid-1800s; Oriental and India Office Collections is currently being prepared for the database; Keagle Photograph Library, The Hensley Photo Collection and The Bond Photograph Library all three contain WWII photographs taken by an American servicemen.

The Getty Research Institute
The Getty Research Institute is digitizing selected materials from their collection, which are free to view and download from their Digital Collection Database.

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of art is considered one of the finest university collections in the United States.  The university has a comprehensive collection of art including American Art, Decorative Arts and Modern & Contemporary art.  The collection database offers several search and browse features, but the quickest way to search is to click the Advanced Search function in the upper right corner of the webpage.

The J. Paul Getty Museum  
The museum’s search feature is based on the ‘simple search’ idea, one search bar for all terms.  Results may include full view images and detail images, captions from displays, artist info and dates. If you are looking for a more traditional search function, you can access their database interface here. Kyoto National Museum
The Kyoto National Museum Online Database covers over 10,000 images from the museum collection.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum has recently updated their website and their image database interface as well. You can currently search 343,190 items in their collection database, and the number is growing as more items are digitized. 

The MoMA features an online database of their collection that is easy to search and browse. Their database currently has 6,962 Artists and 39,106 Works online.

National Gallery   
The National Gallery in DC has an enormous collection database which features images of artworks in two sizes, details about the creator(s), dates and information about individual pieces on many works.

New York Public Library Picture Collection Online
NYPL has over 300,000 images in their Picture Collection.  These digitized images are from prints, photographs, books, postcards, newspapers and magazines.  The images are from NYPL holdings and are mostly dated before 1923.

Smithsonian American Art Museum & Renwick Gallery
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive collections of American art.  Major areas of the collection include: The American Colonies and the Early Republic; Nineteenth-Century Art: Western Art, Impressionism; Twentieth-Century Art: Realism and Abstraction; Contemporary Art and Media Arts; Sculpture; Works on Paper: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs; Folk Art, African American Art, and Latino Art and Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts.

Smithsonian Archives of American Art Image Gallery
The Smithsonian Archives of American Art is continually being updated and currently over 16 million items are in the database.  Their Image Collection contains over 8,000 photographs, letters, sketches, and diaries.

Smithsonian Collections Searching Center
Search over 2 million records with 265,900 images, video and sound files, electronic journals and other resources from the Smithsonian's museums, archives & libraries.

Smithsonian Institution Research Information System
Smithsonian American Art Museum maintains a number of specialized art databases and photographic archive collections which include: Art Inventories and Photograph Archives Catalog.

The State Hermitage Museum  
The Hermitage has a unique image database of high resolution artwork images. In addition to the Advanced Search, the basic search allows you to “find artwork by selecting colors from a palette or by sketching shapes on a canvas. Or, refine existing search results by requesting all artwork with comparable visual attributes.” [Hermitage website]

Tate Gallery Collection
This database covers artworks from the Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tat St. Ives collections. 

University of Michigan Museum of Art
The Search the Collections database is growing and currently has 16,459 images records. You can limit your search to only records that contain an image.

VADS : Visual Arts Database
This database has over 100,000 images and a great advanced search feature.

Victoria & Albert  
The Victoria & Albert has recently had a website overhaul, and the new interface is intuitive and simple to use.  Their image database, Search the Collections, is a work in progress with over a million records to search. 

Visual Collections: images of art, history and culture  
An image database of over 300,000 images from 50 collections of art.

The Web Gallery of Art   
This database allows users to search European painting and sculpture from 1000-1850.  The database has over 27.600 reproductions as of August 2011 and is continually updated. This database also features a mobile version.

 Wikipaintings Beta
This is a brand new (and free!) image database that with a very user friendly interface that is easy to search and browse.  Although the project is large and has just started, Wikipaintings will cover the history of art including contemporary works and artists and currently features over 58,600 historical and contemporary artworks. 

Yale University Galleries  
The Yale University Galleries Collection Database allows you to explore their large collection of art that includes: American Decorative Arts, American Painting & Sculpture and Modern and Contemporary Art.