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Simpson | Stafford | Special Collections

Art & Art History: Obtaining Background Material

A research guide to finding books, articles, and other resources in Art and Art History

Using Reference Books

Use Reference books to:

♦  Obtain background material to help familiarize yourself with your topic

♦  Locate definitions of terms and concepts

♦  Find bibliographies suggesting additional resources on your topic


Reference books are on the first floor of Simpson Library

Don't forget!  If you need assistance, stop at the Information Desk (located to the right as you enter Simpson Library's front door).

Citing Your Sources

While writing research papers, you may need to:

  List your sources in bibliographies or works cited, and

♦  Provide either footnotes or endnotes.

Here is a link to the UMW Libraries' Guide to Citing Resources.

Navigation Menu

When looking for background information related to any of the following topics, either click on these links or scroll down for reference books found on the first floor of Simpson Library:

General Reference Books

Biographical Reference Books

Architecture Reference Books

General Reference Books

American Art Dictionary
REFB N 50 .A5
American Folk Art: A Regional Reference
REFB NK 805 .C655 2012
The Artist's Illustrated Encyclopedia
REFB N 8510 .M48 2001
The Dictionary of Art
REFB N 31 .D5 1996
A Dictionary of Pictorial Subjects from Classical Literature
REFB N 7760 .P68
Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art
REFB N 7560 .H34 1979
Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography
REFB N 7565 .E53 1998
Encyclopedia of Italian Renaissance & Mannerist Art
REFB N 6370 .E53 2000

The Encyclopedia of Sculpture
REFB NB 198 .E53 2004
Encyclopedia of World Art
REFB N 31 .E4833
The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art
REFB N 6505 .G76 2011
The Grove Encyclopedia of Classical Art and Architecture
REFB N 5610 .G76 2007
The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts
REFB NK 28 .G76 2006
The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art
REFB N 8510 .G76 2008
Index to 19th Century American Art Periodicals
REFB N 6510 .S35
Facts on File Encyclopedia of Art
REFB N 31 .F33 2005
Guide to the Literature of Art History 2
REFB N 380 .A76 2005
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae
REFB N 7760 .L49 1981
Modern Arts Criticism
REFB N 40 .M63
The Oxford Companion to Western Art
REFB N 33 .O923 2001
The Oxford Dictionary of Art
REFB N 33 .O93 2004
The Penguin Concise Dictionary of Art History
REFB N 5300 .F64
World Painting Index
REFB ND 45 .H38

Biographical Reference Books

Benezit Dictionary of Artists
REFB N 40 .B4713 2006
Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists
REFB N 40 .B535 2005
An online index to millions of biographical sketches in hundreds of reference books and other sources. To use the index, 1) Look up your name. 2) Note the various titles that contain information on the person. 3) Use the Libraries' online catalog to locate the reference works. An excellent place to begin biographical research on living and deceased persons from around the world.
Contemporary Artists
REFB N 6490 .C6567
Contemporary Women Artists
REFB N 8354 .C66 1999
Encyclopedia of Artists
REFB N 31 .E53 2000
Latin American and Caribbean Artists of the Modern Era
REFB N 6502.4 .S45 2003
St. James Guide to Black Artists
REFB N 40 .S78 1997
St. James Guide to Hispanic Artists
REFB N 6538 .H58 S7 2002
Who Was Who in American Art
REFB N 6512 .F26
Who's Who in American Art
REFB N 6536 .W5
Women Artists of Color: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
REFB N 8354 .W656 1999

Architecture Reference Books

American Architecture: An Illustrated Encyclopedia
REFB NA 705 .H36 1998
Contemporary Architects
REFB NA 680 .C625 1994b
Dictionary of Architecture and Construction
REFB NA 31 .H32 2006
Encyclopedia of Architectural and Engineering Feats
REFB NA 200 .L32 2001
Encyclopaedia of Architectural Technology
REFB NA 31 .G53 2002
Encyclopedia of Architecture
REFB NA 31 .E59 1988
Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Architecture
REFB NA 680 .E495 2004
Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World
REFB NA 208 .E53 1997

Icons of American Architecture
REFB NA 705 .L35 2009
Illustrated Dictionary of Architectural Preservation
REFB NA 105 .B87 2003
Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture
REFB NA 31 .H56 1983
Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects
REFB NA 40 .M25 1982

The Oxford Companion to Architecture
REFB NA 31 .O94 2009
Penguin Dictionary of Architecture & Landscape Architecture
REFB NA 31 .F55 1998
World Architecture Index: A Guide to Illustrations
REFB NA 202 .T4 1991