Q. How do I find primary sources for renaissance artists?

Answered By: Kathryn Ray
Last Updated: Mar 18, 2024     Views: 712

For finding primary sources on Northern Renaissance artists our main book is Northern Renaissance Art 1400-1600: Sources and Documents by Wolfgang Stechow

Here are some strategies for finding additional primary sources:

1.  Take a look at the biographical articles on individual artistis in Grove Art Online - Oxford Art Online. (From the library's homepage under RESEARCH ASSISTANCE > Databases > G > Grove...) The bibliographies at the end sometimes have archival sources listed. Some of those are in English and available in Hathi Trust or in our collection.

2.  Also, look at some of the other sources in the Grove Art bibliographies or use our catalog to find major works in English on the artist in our collection.  Art historians tend to quote original sources in translation, so they can search for some of those instances and cite the original source quoted in the secondary source.

3. The library catalog includes primary sources on artists. Adding search terms like narratives, records, letters, and sources may work. If none is found for the assigned artist, search for renaissance artists in general. If the names of artists for whom the artist worked are known, or the names of contemporary writers on art, look for a primary source for that person in our catalog. 

4. Find a related primary source, for example, on the artist, or the artist’s patron, or an art treatise of the time describing what painting should be like, or sources describing what an artist’s guild was like at the time, and connect it to the art themselves.  

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