Book Library Blog

Research help from the Courtauld librarians

Tuesday, 8 April, 2014 by Nick Brown

Following on from a successful and well received trial we will now be offering Courtauld students (at all levels) research help in an informal setting. Every Wednesday from now on and until further notice we’ll be offering drop-in support in the Student Café from 4 – 4.30 p.m. The next session will be on Wednesday 9th April.

Librarians offering reference support

We’ll be able to help with guidance on topics such as research methodology, search strategy for literature review, using our subscription databases, compiling bibliographies and using reference management software.

So, whether you’re perplexed by JSTOR, in a tangle over op. cit. and loc. cit. or would just like someone to help you locate relevant information, come and find us in the café and we’ll try to set you in the right direction.

We also intend to experiment with other days and times once term starts again.

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Free access to Palgrave Macmillan journals in March

Tuesday, 4 March, 2014 by Nick Brown

Until the end of March, Palgrave Macmillan is offering free online access to all of its journals. Among the most interesting titles for Courtauld staff and students will be Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies, Feminist Review and Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society.

Postmedieval journal page


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Recent acqusitions: Courtauld alumni and staff publications

Wednesday, 26 February, 2014 by Book Library Team

While visiting the Courtauld Book Library, you may have noticed the three recent acquisitions displays to the side of the issue desk. The library staff see dozens of new acquisitions arrive every week, and these displays are a wonderful way to showcase a selection of these items before they are shelved with the rest of the collection.

In addition to the New Book and Current Exhibition Catalogues displays, there is a themed display, which changes every two weeks. Previous themes for this academic year have included fashion, photography, drawing, and women artists. Our current selection features titles by Courtauld alumni and staff.

The new book display

À l’avant garde! art et politique dans les années 1960 et 1970

features an essay by Dr. Jacopo Galimberti, who completed his PhD at the Courtauld in 2013 and is now a visiting lecturer.


Bergson and the art of immanence: painting, photography, film

edited by John Mullarkey and Charlotte de Mille, Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld; with contributions by Professor Sarah Wilson and PhD candidate James Day.


Capital cities at war: Paris, London, Berlin, 1914-1919 (volumes 1 and 2)

by Jay Winter, Research Forum Visiting Professor and Charles J. Stille Professor of History at Yale University.


Medieval and later ivories in The Courtauld Gallery, complete catalogue

by Professor John Lowden, with an essay by Dr. Alexandra Gerstein, Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Courtauld Gallery.


Museums Matter: in praise of the encyclopedic museum

by Professor James Cuno, Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art from 2002 until 2004, and current president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust.


Painting in Cappadocia: a guide to the sites and Byzantine church decoration

by Dr. Cecily Hennessy , who gained a PhD in Byzantine art in 2001, and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Christie’s Education.


Pleading in the blood: the art and performances of Ron Athey

edited by Dr. Dominic Johnson, who completed his MA and PhD at the Courtauld (2003 and 2007), and is currently a Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London.


The Routledge Companion to music and visual culture

with contributions by Charlotte de Mille, Visiting Lecturer ; William L. Coleman, who completed his MA in 2008; Ayla Lepine, former Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow; and Dr. Sheila McTighe, Senior Lecturer.


21st-century portraits, National Portrait Gallery

by Andrew Graham-Dixon, who studied as a postgraduate at the Courtauld.


The versatile image: photography, digital technologies and the internet

edited by Dr. Alexandra Moschovi, who completed her PhD at the Courtauld in 2004 and is currently Lecturer in Photographic history and theory at the University of Sunderland; Carol McKay and Arabella Plouviez; with a contribution by Rachel Wells, who completed her MA and PhD (2004 and 2008) at the Courtauld, and is currently Lecturer in Art History/Theory at Newcastle University.


Visual cultures as seriousness

by Professor Irit Rogoff , who completed her PhD at the Courtauld in 1987, and is currently Professor of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London.


Wonderful things: Byzantium through its art

edited by Dr. Antony Eastmond, AG Leventis Reader in the History of Byzantine Art.


Caitlin Peterson and Bobbie Winter-Burke

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Archnet relaunch

Wednesday, 12 February, 2014 by Nick Brown

Archnet welcome page

Launched in 2002 website has recently been significantly revamped to include new features, content and better design. Archnet is the leading online study resource focusing on architecture in Islamic societies. Among the improvements are an increase in the historic archives available as well as a timeline visualisation showing the history of Muslin architecture from the Rashidun Caliphate to the present day.

Archnet timeline

Many Courtauld students will be familiar with the Archnet for providing full-text access to the key journal Muqarnas from volume 1 to 2009 (more recent issues are available via our Brill subscription) but the site also contains much cutting edge information such as  that complete documentation of all 411 projects submitted for the 2013 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. There are also collections of reference materials such as the Andrew Peterson’s 1996 Dictionary of Islamic Architecture and a selection of architectural plans and drawings of some of the major monuments in the Islamic world.

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New open access e-book collection

Monday, 27 January, 2014 by Nick Brown

Last week Getty Publications launched a Virtual Library providing free access to over 250 backlist titles. The collection comprises titles published by the J.Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute and cover a diverse range of materials including exhibition catalogues, monographs, key art historical texts, journals, symposium papers and works on conservation. There is significant crossover with the library’s book collection including Cezanne in the Studio (currently in the short loan collection), Illuminating the Renaissance, Riegl’s The Group Portraiture of Holland and The Conservation of Wall Paintings, edited by the Courtauld’s Sharon Cather.

Getty Virtual Library

These and other freely accessible e-book collections relevant to staff and students at the Courtauld are available via our e-books page where you can also find links to our subscription e-books collections.

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New e-journal and e-books trials

Wednesday, 8 January, 2014 by Nick Brown

The Book Library is currently trialing two new resources; the online edition of the London Review of Books and Oxford University Press’ Very Short Introductions e-book series.

London Review of Books cover

The London Review of Books is a leading literary and intellectual journal which features frequent contributions from the likes of T.J. Clark, Brian Dillon and Hal foster and has been described byAlan Bennett as ‘The liveliest, the most serious and also the most radical literary periodical we have.’ The online archive covers the entire run of the journal from the first issue in 1979.

Very Short Introductions - Contemporary Art

Very Short Introductions offers concise introductory texts to a diverse range of subjects written by prominent academics. There are a number of relevant art titles including our own Julian Stallabrass’s Very Short Introduction to Contemporary Art as well as many useful titles from other disciplines such as philosophy (including volumes on Foucault, Derrida and Wittgenstein) and history (including The Renaissance, Medieval Britain and Late Antiquity).

Currently the trials are accessible only onsite but should we go ahead with purchase they will also be available remotely.

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Don’t judge a book by its catalogue record

Monday, 9 December, 2013 by Erica Foden-Lenahan

As part of an inventory exercise in the Special Collections, we have unearthed some interesting and useful books, including a copy of Persepolis illustrata from 1739, with plates depicting the Palace of Isfahan. It has now been catalogued on the computer system and can be requested from Special Collections. The shelfmark is CABS A226.PER PER and its oversize.

Perhaps the book that illustrates the title of this post best is located on the catalogue as A description of ancient Rome, containing a short account of the principal buildings, places, &c. …, printed for John Knapton in 1761.  That description is located near the back of a bound volume containing a number of political tracts and pamphlets, including An account of the emancipation of the slaves of Unity Valley Pen, in Jamaica. This document explains how David  Barclay, from Walthamstow in Essex, came to the conclusion that it was ‘subversive of the rights of human nature’ to keep slaves. (p.3) Barclay, of the banking and brewing family, was a Quaker and an abolitionist, supporting William Wilberforce in his attempts to have the House of Commons outlaw the slave trade.

The slaves were ‘inherited’ by Barclay, when he and his brother John inherited grazing land in Jamaica, in St. Ann’s Parish, about 40 miles from Kingston. (p.7) They were taken to Philadelphia where the Barclays had acquaintances and “where was already formed a Society for the abolition of slavery, and for the benefit of free blacks, of which society he was already a member.” (p.6)  The table below gives an account of what happened to the freed slaves 4 years later.

Persepolis illustrata

I am sure that Knapton’s description of ancient Rome is interesting, but this volume is a reminder that there is more to life than art. The book’s shelfmark is CABS Z6920 KNA.

And with that I’d like to thank the Courtauld for the opportunity to work with this wonderful collection of books and archives for the past 5 years. I have learned so much from my colleagues, students, and the collections themselves. There is so much to explore and so many research projects contained in these rich and beautiful collections.

Erica Foden-Lenahan

Special Collections Librarian, 2008-2013

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The Books That Shaped Art History

Tuesday, 29 October, 2013 by Nick Brown

In advance of the Research Forum’s panel discussion and book launch this Thursday (details below) celebrating the publication of The Books That Shaped Art History, we thought we’d mention that all of the books discussed are available to consult or borrow from the Book Library.

Book cover

In chronological order they are;

  • Emile Mâle’s L’art religieux du XIIe siècle en France: étude sur les origines de l’iconographie du moyen age can be found at Z7475 MAL as well as personal copies in the Johannes Wilde and John Sherman bequests.
  • Bernhard Berenson’s The drawings of the Florentine painters: classified, criticised and studied as documents in the history and appreciation of Tuscan art, with a copious catalogue raisonné is located at C256.FLO BER.
  • Heinrich Wölfflin’s Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe: das Problem der Stilentwickelung in der neueren Kunst can be found at Z7430 WOE as well as personal copies in the Johannes Wilde and Count Antoine Seilern bequests.
  • Roger Fry’s Cézanne: a study of his development is available at D553.CEZ FRY.
  • Nikolaus Pevsner’s Pioneers of modern design: from William Morris to Walter Gropius can be found at Z6450 PEV.
  • Alfred H. Barr’s Matisse, his art and his public is located at D553.MAT BAR.
  • Erwin Panofsky’s Early Netherlandish painting: its origins and character is available at D665 PAN as well as a copy in the Johannes Wilde bequest.
  • Kenneth Clark’s The nude: a study in ideal form is available at Z7434 CLA as well as a copy in the Johannes Wilde bequest.
  • E.H. Gombrich’s Art and illusion: a study in the psychology of pictorial representation can be found at Z7430 GOM.
  • Clement Greenberg’s Art and culture: critical essays is located at Z7430 GRE.
  • Francis Haskell’s Patrons and painters: a study in the relations between Italian art and society in the age of the Baroque can be found at Z8380 HAS as well as two personal copies in the Anthony Blunt bequest.
  • Michael Baxandall’s Painting and experience in fifteenth century Italy: a primer in the social history of pictorial style is available at D615 BAX.
  • T.J. Clark’s Image of the people: Gustave Courbet and the 1848 Revolution is located at D553.COU CLA.
  • Svetlana AlpersThe art of describing: Dutch art in the seventeenth century can be found at D646 ALP.
  • Rosalind E. KraussThe originality of the avant-garde and other modernist myths is located at Z6490 KRA.
  • Hans Belting’s Bild und Kult: eine Geschichte des Bildes vor dem Zeitalter der Kunst is available at Z7475 BEL.

And of course, The books that shaped art history: from Gombrich and Greenberg to Alpers and Krauss edited by Richard Shone and John-Paul Stonard is available at Z5305 BOO.

Panel Discussion and Book Launch
18.00, Thursday 31 October 2013

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 0RN London

Which were the key books to have shaped art history over the twentieth century? Why were they so important and what have their legacies been? This panel discussion will focus on three of the most influential art historians of the past 100 years – Erwin Panofksy, Kenneth Clark and Michael Baxandall – before broadening into a wider discussion about the state of art history today.

Celebrating the recent publication of The Books that Shaped Art History by Thames & Hudson, the event will include short papers by Professor Susie Nash on Panofksy’s Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origin and Character (1953), John-Paul Stonard on Clark’s The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art (1956) and Professor Paul Hills on Baxandall’s Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy (1972).

Former Courtauld Director Eric Fernie will then lead a panel discussion on art historiography to consider the questions and controversies raised both by these books and the other seminal texts that have helped to define the discipline.

Speakers: Eric Fernie; Paul Hills,Susie Nash and John-Paul Stonard (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

The event will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Organised by Susie Nash (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Open to all, free admission

Susie Nash is Deborah Loeb Brice Professor of Renaissance Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she has taught for the last 20 years. She has published several books on late medieval and Renaissance art including Between France and Flanders. Manuscript Illumination in Amiens in the Fifteenth Century (British Library and Toronto University Press, 1999); Northern Renaissance Art (Oxford University Press, 2008), Late Medieval Panel Painting. Materials, Making and Meaning (Paul Holberton 2011) and a series of major articles on Claus Sluter’s ‘Well of Moses’ in The Burlington Magazine (2005,2006,2008).


Paul Hills studied the History of Art at the University of Cambridge and The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. After teaching for many years at Warwick University, he returned in 2003 to The Courtauld Institute as Professor of Renaissance Art. He has also been Visiting Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts in New York, at Villa I Tatti, the Harvard Center for Renaissance Studies in Florence, as well as the Royal College of Art in London. On his retirement in 2012 he was made Emeritus Professor at The Courtauld Institute of Art. His publications include The Light of Early Italian Painting, 1987, and Venetian Colour: Marble, Mosaic, Painting and Glass, 1999, (both Yale University Press). He is currently completing a book on Curtains, Veils and Drapery in the Renaissance.


John-Paul Stonard is a critic and historian of art. He studied at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where he has subsequently worked as a Visiting Lecturer, specialising in modern German art. From 2010-11 he was a Senior Fellow at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. He has published widely in the field of twentieth-century art, and is a regular contributor to The Burlington Magazine, Artforum and the Times Literary Supplement.

Eric Fernie is a historian of the architecture of the Middle Ages, whose books include Art History and its Methods (1995) and The Architecture of Norman England (2000). Before retiring he was Director of The Courtauld Institute of Art.


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Introducing our new Graduate Trainnees

Monday, 28 October, 2013 by Book Library Team

Hello, I’m Bobbie Winter-Burke and I am one of the new Graduate Trainees in the Book Library. Before joining The Courtauld in September, I was a Library Assistant at Middlesex University in Hendon. As I knew I wanted to work in art libraries, during the four months I spent at Middlesex I also volunteered one day a week at The Whitechapel Gallery organising and cataloguing their curatorial library. Prior to working in libraries, I set up and ran a small bookshop for an independent art publishing house, which is where I began to be interested in the collection development aspects of library work.

I studied English Literature at the University of Sussex and since graduating have worked in quite a variety of organisations including theatres, galleries and museums, as well as medical publishing, archives, and a public health organisation. I am excited to be part of such a small and specialised team and I look forward to getting to know the library collection and its users better over the year.


Hello, my name is Cait Peterson, and I’m one of the new Graduate Trainees in the Courtauld Book Library. Before starting this post, I spent a year working as an Information Assistant at Kingston University.  I finished my masters in Library Science at City University at the end of September, and I wrote my dissertation on the library’s potential role in artistic ‘inspiration’. My interest is in art librarianship specifically, and this position at the Courtauld is a wonderful opportunity for me to gain experience in a specialist art library. My background is in illustration, and I did my first degree at Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts London. I look forward to spending an interesting and exciting year at the Courtauld!


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Update on Emblemata post in April 2011

Friday, 4 October, 2013 by Erica Foden-Lenahan

Back in 2011, I wrote a post about one of my favourite books in the Special Collections – a copy of Alciato’s emblem book from 1608. I talked about the binding having some interesting features, including the initials RW incorporated into the blind roll decoration. John Chalmers, a retired librarian who was once based in Oxford, now in Chicago, contacted me about the posting. And here is what he said:

“The attribution to the Oxford binder Robert Way (active in Oxford 1602-1626) by Basil Oldham has been accepted and unchallenged, although there is evidence that Way’s tools were shared with other binders in Oxford.

A characteristic of Oxford binding in this period, in addition to the dark blind-tooled calf, is manuscript endleaves, which have been studied by the late Neil Kerr, and leather or alum-tawed sewing supports.”

What I had thought were parchment sewing supports, upon closer inspection and armed with greater knowledge acquired on my book conservation course than I had at the time of writing, I could now see that the supports were, in fact, alum-tawed skins.

I am thankful to Mr. Chalmers for both his information and encouragement. I have now amended the bibliographic record binding description.

Erica Foden-Lenahan

Special Collections Librarian

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