Introduction to Art History,500 to 1789 (ART205)


Reference Sources in Chemeketa's Library 


Specialized dictionaries can help, not only with technical terms, but also with the interpretation of symbols.

The Oxford dictionary of art [R 703.21 Ox2]
Contains many biographical entries as well as some technical terms.
Art history: Key concepts [online]
Major ideas in art history, defined
Hutchison dictionary of symbols in art
Symbols listed alphabetically and interpreted.
Dictionary of subjects and symbols in art [R 704.94 H14]
Has few illustrations, but contains the most information about traditional scenes such as the Deposition.
The dictionary of symbols in Western art [R 704.946 C23]
Gives treatment not only of visual symbols, e.g., dice, but of persons and scenes frequently pictured, such as Gabriel. Coverage is selective.
Illustrated dictionary of art terms: a handbook for the artist and art lover [R 703.21 R33]
Contains more technical terms than the Oxford dictionary, with illustrations.
Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art [R 704.946 H14]
This is actually a visual dictionary, divided into thematic chapters, e.g., "Animals," with line drawings of each subject glossing the text. There is also a chapter on collectives, e.g., The Four Prophets, and an index.
Medieval Art: A Topical Dictionary
Subjects and symbols in art of the Middle Ages.
Signs & symbols in Christian art. With illus. from paintings of the Renaissance [R704.9482 F38]
This book is on academic reserve - ask for it at the Circulation Desk.
The Dent dictionary of symbols in Christian art [R 704.9482 Sp3]
Includes fewer personal names, but more scenes and symbols, than the The dictionary of symbols in Western art

Other Reference books 

This listing contains encyclopedias and handbooks which may be helpful.

*Dictionary of art [R 703 D56
Despite the name, this is a 34-volume encyclopedia. The index is in the last volume. Individual works are listed in the index under the artist's name (if known).
Encyclopedia of world art [R 703 M17]
This encyclopedia includes individual works of art in the index (Vol. 17).
Encyclopedia of comparative iconography [R 704.903 En1]
Articles on themes and situations expressed in art, e.g., Light, Grieving/Lamentation, Shepherds, etc.
Oxford companion to Christian art and architecture [R 704.9482 M96]
A handbook explaining many themes and scenes
[Janson's] History of art [R 709 J22]
A history with numerous illustrations and a detailed index.
The Oxford Companion to Western Art [R 709 Ox2 and online]
Best for named artists and for concise overviews of styles, etc.
Gothic art [R 709.02 Er5]
A history with numerous illustrations and a detailed index.
Larousse encyclopedia of Byzantine and medieval art [R 709.02 H98]
Numbers in the margin refer to the numbered illustrations.

Finding Books 

Use the Library Search to find books. Limit your search to books by selecting the Books resource type under Refine My Results. Chemeketa books will show as Available, with a green disc indicator, followed by the location and call number.

You may have to do several searches to find books that might be pertinent to your subject. Try the techniques shown in the table below.

Books not owned by Chemeketa may be requested through Summit or via interlibrary loan.


Chemeketa students registered for credit may request Summit books from other Orbis Cascade Alliance libraries. The Orbis Cascade Alliance is made up of 37 member libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Authorized users have access to all of the material in the Chemeketa Community College library, plus about 28 million items in Summit.

Search Type Method Example
Keyword [time period or style] + "art" medieval art
Keyword [technique,medium, etc.] + [place name] painting AND Siena; painting Italy
Keyword [technique, medium, etc.] + [period or style] illumination Gothic
Keyword "art," "architecture," etc. + [geographic adjective] architecture Roman
Keyword [building type]* + [place name] cathedral* France
Subject Library of Congress subject heading (Clicking takes you to a site where you can find an appropriate heading.) Christian art and symbolism;
Subject [Artist's name] Ghiberti, Lorenzo

TIP: When using keywords, try truncating: baptis* finds baptism, baptist, baptists, baptistery, etc. (* is the truncation character for the library search).

Periodical Indexes 

JSTOR: Full text articles from academic journals. Tips: Check off "Article" under Item Type on the search page. To print or save, click View PDF link. If using databases from off campus, you will need your My Chemeketa user name and password.

Academic OneFile, a Gale database, indexes articles in art journals and contains the full text of many. If using databases from off campus, you will need your My Chemeketa user name and password.

You may need to combine multiple search terms to find articles on your topic. Checking off "Chemeketa Periodicals" and "Full text" is helpful, too.

picture of Gale Advanced Search Screen

TIP: When using keywords, try truncating: theor* finds theory, theories, theoretical, etc. (* is the truncation character for Gale).

If you find an article that meets your needs, look at its description for additional terms you can use to search.

Art Index, a printed index to art journals, is shelved in the library's reference section under the number REF 050 Ar7.  picture of important point indicatorArt Index has coverage of earlier years than most Gale databases.

Image Databases 

The library has three databases that contain images of art.

Large, searchable database of art images. Use the Advanced search to limit results by date or other criteria. Double-click on an thumbnail to see a larger image; click on the i button under the image to show the data about it.
   BulletUsing ARTstor Image Database has handouts and video tutorials on using ARTstor.
CAMIO (Catalog of Art Museum Images Online)
The results list shows a thumbnail image of each piece, with other information in columns. Click on a column header, e.g., date, to sort. Clicking on the title of the work brings up the full image and record.
Image Quest
Searchable database of more than two million images. All images are rights-cleared for non-commercial, educational use.

Internet Sites 

Subject Guide to Online Art Resources -
Online reference books and Web sites that may be useful for the study of art.

Search Suggestions 

Of course you may search in catalogs or databases under an artist's name. Here are some other words to search with in combination, using those that apply to your work of art. Your textbook may suggest others.

Media, techniques, etc. Time period or style Miscellaneous
painting Byzantine church*
sculpture Carolingian cathedral*
fresco* Gothic sarcophagus
mosaic* Merovingian altar*
illumination Ottonian France, Italy, etc.
architecture Romanesque Flemish, Roman, etc.

To comment or request help, please e-mail Reference or call 503.399.5231.

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Updated: 12 June 2015