Online resources Archive

Bridgeman Education: free trial

“A unique and educational resource from the world’s leading source of fine art, cultural and historical images.” Bridgeman Education.

The Book Library has just set up a free trial for an online image resource called Bridgeman Education. Bridgeman Education enables the user to access approximately 36,000 images all of which are copyright-cleared for educational use. Users can create slide shows and download images for use in research, assignments, presentations and lectures. The free trial is available for all Courtauld staff and students and is active from Monday 17th October to Friday 11th November 2011. If you are on campus follow this link to start exploring. For off campus access please email for username and password. Please let us know what you think of the resource by emailing thoughts and observations to General comments on the use of online images in art historical research are also welcome.

Oxford University Art History Podcasts

Oxford University’s Open Spires project aims to make recordings of lectures and other events at the university available to a global audience. A wide range of subjects are covered, but most interesting for Courtauld Students are the range of history of art lectures that are available.

The podcast index includes 13 art history lectures covering a diverse range of subjects from Michaelangelo to Modernism and Chinese visual culture. Those with a particular interest in Surrealism are particularly well served by the eight lectures by Dawn Ades.

Contemporary practice is also covered by the inclusion of video and sound recordings of graduates from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art discussing their final year work. Architecture is covered in a lecture by Norman Foster which is followed by a symposium on the subject of the Future of Cities.

The collection is growing and it is worthwhile investigating other subject areas to find material relevant to art history. The philosophy lectures include one on aesthetics and philosophy of art, and if you need a crash course in general philosophy, the 41 lectures included here are a good place to start. The podcast index also includes recordings of papers relating to the study of Soviet states, which include discussions of visual art, film, theatre and music.

The podcasts are released using Creative Commons licenses. Many of them have Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licenses meaning they can be ‘reused and redistributed globally provided that it is used in a non-commercial way and the reuse is attributed to the person/people who made the recording. If a person derives a new work from the recording, the new work may be distributed provided it is released under the same license.’ (

Image: Edd Morgan, 2008.

Lloyd Roderick
Graduate Trainee Library Assistant.

Education Image Gallery: free trial

The Book Library has just set up a free trial for an online resource called the Education Image Gallery, which provides access to over 56,000 images, drawn from the following collections:

•The Fitzwilliam Museum
•GovEd Communications
•The North Highland College
•Royal Geographic Society
•University of Brighton
•Imperial War Museum

According to the site, “A large variety of images are included, covering key events and multiple subject areas including history, social sciences, engineering and technology, art, creative industries and geography. With the images selected by by an expert community-led panel, you can illustrate key times, places, people and events. The images are available for downloading in screen-resolution format. As the images are copyright-cleared, they are free to download for (appropriately credited) use in learning, teaching and research.”

So, for example, this is an image from the site:

Triptych: The Lamentation, Daniel and St. Peter © The Fitzwilliam Museum.

Members of the Institute can take advantage of this free trial (which ends on 6th March 2011). Please let us know what you think of the resource by emailing me, Phil Bower, at The Education Image Gallery can be accessed by following this linkand choosing ‘login via UK Federation’, then ‘EDINA (trial only)’ from the drop-down list of institutions before then entering your login details. Please email or ask at the main Book Library desk for the username and password.

Courtauld Book(mark) Library : Keep track of your research

There are a range of social bookmarking sites available online which can help you manage references to electronic resources.

Delicious allows you to keep a log of bookmarked pages which can be accessed from any computer, rather than book- marking pages on individual machines.

To set up, all that is needed is a yahoo account- if you already have this, creating a delicious account takes seconds.

While there is no substitute for old fashioned library research, the recommendations function can be helpful to locate articles and references that you otherwise may have missed. By setting up networks of users, sharing bookmarks could be a useful for preparing for group work or presentations.

Notes can be added to references and more crucially, the bookmarks can be tagged. Such folksonomies are common to anyone already using flickr or youtube, but to gain the best use of this in an organisational context, it may be necessary to control the vocabulary used: bookmarks which may be useful to be shared with others might not be found by other users if idiosyncratic tags are used. There are also options to add a message to the bookmark, which then can be sent via email or twitter to other users; useful if you are feeling generous and find a page that would be useful for a friend’s essay.

Once you have created a list of resources it if possible to find articles and web pages which may be of interest that otherwise might have been missed. Given the size of the network, this can be a little hit or miss- ‘also tagged by….’ Would refer to the whole network and so could be a little nebulous, and while it can be useful to find other references, a more worthwhile approach would be to add specific users to your network (under the ‘People’ tab)- this way different work groups could access each others bookmarks.

Superficially, Delicious would appear to be more useful in a social rather than academic setting. However, by creating a distinct network of users relating to a particular area of work it could be a useful tool to share references. This would be enhanced if used for particular projects or set areas of work, and possibly agreeing on a brief list of tags to be used.

What is citeulike?

CiteULike is a free service to help you to store, organize and share the scholarly papers you are reading. When you see a paper on the web that interests you, you can click one button and have it added to your personal library. CiteULike automatically extracts the citation details, so there’s no need to type them in yourself. It all works from within your web browser so there’s no need to install any software. Because your library is stored on the server, you can access it from any computer with an Internet connection. [from]

The advantage of CiteULike over delicious is citation management and could be a useful tool in preparing resources for an essay, or as a means for organizing a list of references into a consistent and clear format. For citation help, Zotero is also worth exploring.

To get the best out of the service, you have to be quite aware of some information retrieval techniques which go beyond a simple search-engine search. For example to quickly search for articles which contain a given tag within your library of articles, the tag can be added to the end of the URL of your logged in page, with Boolean operators. While this produces quick results for those familiar with these techniques, it may present a fairly steep learning curve to those who are not.

For help in honing your internet searching skills, Intute has a range of online tutorials offering advice of critically evaluating resources and improving search techniques.

Lloyd Roderick
Graduate Trainee Library Assistant

A quick word from the serials librarian

June 10 nearing…

A reminder to all students that the Oxford English Dictionary and Chicago Manual of Style are accessible online, on campus only for the latter and off campus also for the former using Athens authentication. Links from our online resources page.


At last, we are pleased to announce that no less than a year on, we have finally received the February, March, April, May AND June 2009 issues of the RIBA Journal. The result of much ‘claiming’ on our part since March last year; we are now hoping this year’s January issue will turn up before long!

Marie Lagerwall

Current awareness, Artists files revealed

What is it?

It is a web-based directory of institutional holdings of artists files compiled by the Art Libraries Society of North America. Researchers can browse the collection statements of various institutions and find links to further institutional resources.

What are “artists files”?

They are anything that is related to a single artist. These could vary from small books and exhibition catalogues to cards, newspaper clippings, press releases, diaries, posters, etc. They provide critical documentation about well established artists, as well as lesser known ones that are not well documented in the literature. Researchers rely on such files to establish chronologies, find out about exhibition dates, review stylistic developments and assess the critical reception of artists over time. Libraries do not always catalogue artists files and therefore these are not found by browsing their online catalogues. Also such collections have regional strengths and therefore are very important repositories for charting communities and exhibiting bodies.

Which libraries participate in the Artists Files Revealed?

At the moment mostly American institutions have collection statements such as the Frick, Guggenheim, Houston, etc.; the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Centre of Architecture are also there as well as the National Portrait Gallery in London. The directory is open to all so I am sure that the list of participators will increase.

Is it easy to use?

The software is basic and very user friendly. At the moment the directory won’t allow you to do advanced searches but they say that an upgrade is on its way.

OK, is it really for me?

It is good for researchers who are willing to go a step further and travel to visit other libraries. It will save you from browsing the online catalogues of each library for stuff that may not even be on their online catalogues. And it gives contact details so you can verify if a library has what you are looking for. Some of them offer interlibrary loan service where we could be of some help to you.

How can I access it?

Click here.

Vicky Kontou
Systems & Services

Image: Poster for the “Nameless” exhibition at Grosvenor Gallery, 1921-1922. Held in our Special Collections – CABS Z5055 LON GRO

Finding images on the Internet

The following is a quick guide to locating good quality images on the web. The first point of call when looking for art historical images is the subscription database ARTstor which can be accessed using your Senate House Library membership (all staff and students of the Courtauld are entitled to register with Senate House).

As well as the extensive content, the main advantage of using ARTstor is that it is a professionally maintained image library; you can trust that, for example, the Mona Lisa won’t be attributed to Michelangelo. Each high resolution image has metadata giving information about the date, material, school and other descriptive details, which allow you to do more powerful searches. The content can be used freely for any educational (non-commercial) activity but can’t be reproduced on an unrestricted website (this blog, for example).

I found 124 images of work by Italian baroque painter Luca Giordano, 33 images relating to contemporary performance artist Orlan and over a thousand images of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mars, Venus and Cupid
Luca Giordano
c. 1670
From Wikimedia Commons (note that a much better quality image is available on ARTstor)

Another excellent resource is Grove Art Online. When viewing any of the scholarly articles you can click on the Images tab at the top of the page. As well as hosting files it also links to verified external sources – normally images from gallery and museum websites. Again these are free to use for educational purposes.

There are many other useful databases such as the Visual Arts Data Serviceor our own Art and Architecture; for a broad list go to the useful links section of the website and scroll down to Images & Multimedia.

Wikimedia Commons is a file repository for public domain and creative commons images. Creative commons exists to bridge the gap between copyrighted material and the public domain. When using websites such as Wikimedia or Flickr, look for the symbols which let you know the conditions under which an image may be used. Like all wikis the content is user generated and therefore can be unreliable. Just as you wouldn’t rely on Wikipedia as a primary source for research it is inadvisable to assume that Wikimedia will have the same quality control as a peer reviewed scholarly publication. One way of dealing with this difficulty is to check the source of the image; it can often be traced back to a gallery website or intermediary organisations, such as the Web Gallery of Art.

Lastly, we come to the ubiquitous Google. Google allows you to find images relating to almost any imaginable topic, however, as it is not a subject specific database and the content is poorly indexed means that relevant results are often hidden under page after page of soft pornography or pictures of cats. To overcome this you may need to learn how to construct an effective search string (possibly the subject of a future blog post?).

Rembrandt’s Homer Simpson
David Barton
c. 2009
The first result from a Google image search for ‘Rembrandt’
(from under a Creative Commons license).

Another difficulty is that many images found on the web will be at pitifully low resolution, so you may need to think about how the image will appear when reproduced. The internet is the wild west of copyright, and using images found via Google can generate a host of issues. Also, only a small percentage of the internet is ‘visible’ to search engines such as Google. The Deep Web which is not indexed by such sites includes a wealth of useful databases.

Still can’t find what you’re looking for? If you know where an artwork is held try the relevant institution’s website or contact them directly regarding reproduction of images. Sometimes useful results can be found by looking in unusual places. If you’re looking for a portrait try the Dictionary of National Biography online. If you’re looking for images relating to the human body or architecture try the image library of the Wellcome Collection.

Also remember to try our own image libraries and the Slide Library eMuseum which currently has over 30,000 images.

Please remember the importance of checking that you have the necessary copyright permission for your intended use. For example images from a commercial source such as the Bridgeman Art Library will need to be paid for. For a more in-depth guide to finding images and some of the issues involved try this excellent tutorial created by Intute.

Nicholas Brown
Graduate Trainee

About Art History

Take a look at the art history section of It contains some useful reference information and some advice on writing good art history essays. It also features artist biographies, artistic movements and time periods, as well as job opportunities.

Please let us know if you would like to recommend other free online resources for art history.

[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, 2009]

Karen Smith
Exchanges Librarian