Art History Resources: Finding images

Basic sources for researching an art historical topic including finding books, journal articles, biographies, images, and web directories.

KU image gateway

Image Gateway Include here are licensed commercial sources, publicly available collections, and images digitized from resources in the KU libraries, museums, and academic departments. Information and terms of use for each collection is found in the listing.

ARTstor Help & Tutorial, One of the most comprehensive image resources licensed by KU is ARTstor with more than 1 million images on a wide-range of topics. This guide introduces the resource and helps users learn to find, download, save, print, organize, and share images

News images

AP Images Contains the archives of the Associated Press. New content is added constantly to news photographs, audio sound bites, and graphics spanning 180 years of history. Formerly called AccuNet/AP multimedia archive.

Factiva Full text coverage of newspapers, trade publications, and business publications including the Wall Street Journal. Results from topic searches may include images from Reuters Pictures and Tribune Photo Service.


General information

Images may be found in a variety of formats on publicly accessible web sites. Copyright restrictions may apply to these images, and the web master of a given site may need to be consulted when images are used.  Many large and small museums have excellent web sites which display images from their collections as well as information about the images and contacts for more assistance. The library also has many lavishly illustrated books and journals that are available for research.

Art images

Art Resource A large commercial photo archive of fine art from prehistoric times to the present. Includes over three million transparencies and black and white photographs of works cross-referenced by subject, title, artist, period, place, and medium.

Bridgeman Art Library A commercial vendor founded in 1972 offering art, culture, and history images from over 8,000 collections; more than 55,000 entries and 46,497 images from over 29,000 artists. 

Digital Imaging Project Art Historical Images of Sculpture and Architecture from Pre-Historic to Post-Modern that can be searched by location or by artist's name. More than 17,000 images posted by Mary Ann Sullivan of Bluffton University.  

Oxford Art Online Gateway access to Grove Art Online and other Oxford art reference resources. In addition to the more than 23,000 subject entries and 21,000 biographies, the product offers 40,000 image links and 5,000 images contained within Grove Art Online.

Image Collections and Online Art Directory of image websites compiled by Pat Young at the University of Michigan. 

Digital Images Collection Guide A Directory of image projects organized by topic such as Art & Art History, Sculpture, and Photography.

Images from Museums

Many art museums are now allowing Fair Use of digital images documenting their collections and for which they hold the rights. Some examples of this are:

The Open Content Program from the J. Paul Getty Trust More than 87,000 images from including more than 72,000 from the Research Institute's Foto Arte Minore archive, which features photographs of the art and architecture of Italy by Max Hutzel (1913–1988). Other images include paintings, drawings, manuscripts, photographs, antiquities, sculpture, decorative arts, artists' sketchbooks, watercolors, rare prints from the 16th through the 18th century, and 19th-century architectural drawings of cultural landmarks.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam Allows jpeg images of artwork in their collection to be downloaded for free from the relevant page and provides free high-res TIFF files with colour reference for professional use upon request.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Images The Metropolitan Museum of Art creates, organizes, and disseminates a broad range of digital images documenting the rich history of the Museum, its collection, exhibitions, events, people, and activities. Many of these images are available for personal enjoyment, study, educational purposes, and scholarly publication.

Image copyright

Artists Rights Society. The preeminent copyright, licensing, and monitoring organization for visual artists in the United States. Founded in 1987, ARS represents the intellectual property rights interests of over 50,000 visual artists and estates of visual artists from around the world (painters, sculptors, photographers, architects and others).

Copyright Crash Course. A website prepared by Georgia Harper, Office of General Counsel at the University of Texas, outlining some of the legal issues regarding copyright and fair use.