Sotheby's Institute of Art

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A database is a structured collection of information. Our databases usually contain one or more of the following:

  • articles and papers - the full text from journals and other sources
  • abstracts - summaries of articles and papers
  • citations - basic details of articles, papers and books, as in a bibliography
  • financial data - from the art world
  • images.

Video: how to search databases

Tip #1: some resources give added functionality if you set up an account.

Tip #2: most databases can be searched using the Summon search box. Some, notably the price databases, cannot: see the list of these non-Summon resources.

Tip #3: need a database SIA does not have? See the list of extra databases available at other libraries.

AATA Online (Abstracts of International Conservation Literature)
Database of over 139,000 abstracts of literature related to the preservation and conservation of material cultural heritage. Includes subject-specific bibliographies produced as part of the Getty Conservation Institute's conservation and scientific research projects. Although there is no access to the text of articles from AATA, you will find many of them by searching in Summon or the journals search box.

ABI/INFORM Collection
Consists of three databases: ABI/INFORM Dateline, ABI/INFORM Global, and ABI/INFORM Trade and Industry. Provides full text access to a wide range of business publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist.
ProQuest's guide to ABI/INFORM

Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
This multi-disciplinary database provides full text for more than 4,600 journals, including full text for nearly 3,900 peer-reviewed titles. PDF backfiles to 1975 or further are available for well over one hundred journals, and searchable cited references are provided for more than 1,000 titles.

See our archives guide for links to general guides to archives, as well as the major art archives in London.

Archives of American Art: digital collections
Primary material relating to the history of American art, digitised for free viewing online. The site also includes transcripts of oral history interviews and a guide to the part of the collection only available in its original form in Washington DC, or in microform at various locations in the USA.

Art and Architecture Archive (ProQuest)
An archival collection of many of the foremost art and architecture magazines of the 20th-century that supports scholarship across the spectrum of disciplines in the arts, from fine and applied arts through to interior design, industrial design, and landscape gardening. Title List includes: Apollo, Architectural Review, Architects' Journal, ArtAsia Pacific, Art Monthly, British Journal of Photography, C Magazine, Canadian Architect, Ceramics Technical, Country Life, Eye, Graphis, Ornament, Print, Sculpture, Southwest Art.
ProQuest's guide to Art and Architecture Archive

Art & Architecture Thesaurus Online
Definitions of art terms, and synonyms in English and other languages. Useful for checking what keywords to use for a comprehensive online search on a topic. Compiled by the Getty Institute.

Art & Architecture Source (EBSCO)
A major collection of journal articles and more. Includes over 600 full text journals, over 220 e-books, and citations and abstracts to further material. Incorporates the contents previously found in Art Full Text, Art Index Retrospective and Art & Architecture Complete.

ART-Dok (University of Heidelberg)
Journal articles on art history, offered freely by the University of Heidelberg. Many in English, as well as German items.

ARTbibliographies Modern
An index of journal articles about art published from 1974 onwards, with some earlier material. Also includes details of some books, dissertations and other material. No access to the text of the resources themselves. However you may be able to find these by searching in Summon, the SIA journals list, or in another database such as Art & Architecture Source.
ProQuest's guide to ARTbibliographies Modern

Artists' Papers Register
The Artists' Papers Register is a finding aid for art-related primary material. It represents a more current, detailed and extensive guide to the papers of artists and designers in the United Kingdom than any existing resource but the scale of the survey inevitably means that complete coverage is impossible.

Two auction price databases, for fine arts and decorative arts. Over 2.9 million records from over 500 auction houses since 1985. Over half of the records include illustrations. Over 1,000 galleries are featured. The library subscribes to the price database only, and not to the analytics report packages.

Databank of 30 million auction prices and indices, detailed auction results and 635,000+ artists. Lists upcoming auctions for over 6300 auction houses. Archive of 210,000 fine art auctions. Artists’ reports, art market key figures and trends by country. Includes access to Mayer auction prices 1962-1987, Mireur dictionary of auctions 1700-1900, and the free annual report Art Market Trends.

Arts & Humanities Database
Features hundreds of journals covering art, architecture, design, history, philosophy, music, literature, theatre and cultural studies. Includes both scholarly peer-reviewed journals and selected trade and consumer titles relevant to applied arts and cultural studies. Full text included. ProQuest.
ProQuest's guide to this database

Arts: Search
Includes three databases, plus research guides:

  • ReView offers digitised versions of an increasing number of the most important decorative and fine arts journals published in Europe and the USA during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, making them available for the first time in a searchable form online.

  • Design Abstracts Retrospective (DAR)  is an ongoing abstracting and indexing service that aims to cover many of the most important design and applied arts journals and annuals published during the twentieth century. DAR covers articles on all design, from architecture to embroidery, and also has significant fine arts coverage. When complete it will cover over 70 titles.

  • Arts+Architecture Profiles covers the same subject fields as DAR and is by far and away the largest and most comprehensive dictionary of design and designers ever compiled. It includes profiles of every single designer, architect, craftsperson, studio, workshop, etc. whose work is discussed or illustrated in the journals and yearbooks covered by DAR.

  • The research guides are free to access and list other free online resources: sources of biographical information for artists and designers; digitised versions of historic journals; and recommended art history blogs, newsletters and journals.

Searchable database of more than 1 million digital images and associated catalogue data. ARTstor covers many time periods and cultures, and documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, and design, as well as many other forms of visual culture. Users can search, view and download images. Subject guides for specific topics are included.
To download or print images, you will need to create a personal account after you have logged in with your Sotheby's email address. To do this, click Register in the Login box on the top right hand corner. Then fill in the generated form. Once you have registered, you can then save or print your chosen image.
See our full list of image resources.

Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA)
This citation database covers material published between 1975 and 2007. BHA includes articles from over 1,200 journals. BHA includes all articles within the subject scope of BHA regardless of the subject focus of a particular journal. Thus, many of the journals on this list are covered partially, as only some of their articles are within BHA's scope.

Bridgeman Education
Over 300,000 images from 2,000 sources and 30,000 artists with accompanying metadata. Users are able to search all media including photography, fine art, engravings, sculpture, architecture, archaeology & ethnography, history, science & medicine, decorative arts and artefacts.
See our full list of image resources.

Business Source Premier (EBSCO)
Business Source Premier is the industry’s most used business research database, providing full text for more than 2,300 journals, including full text for more than 1,100 peer-reviewed titles. Includes the Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Review. This database provides full text back to 1886, and searchable cited references back to 1998. Business Source Premier focuses on full text coverage in all disciplines of business, including marketing, management, MIS, POM, accounting, finance and economics. Updated daily by EBSCO.

Catalogues Raisonnés Database (IFAR)
A catalogue raisonné aims to be a comprehensive catalogue of an artist's body of work. This free database lists both published catalogues and ones known to be in preparation. These categories can be searched together or separately. Links to online catalogues raisonnés are provided. Online availability is mentioned on the results page for each artist, but it is necessary to click through to the entry for the catalogue itself to find the link.
Video: finding catalogues raisonnés

Chicago Manual of Style Online
Online edition published by the University of Chicago. Also provides convenient tools such as sample correspondence, proofreaders’ marks, and a quick guide to citation.

Can't access the Style Guide? Clear your browser cache and try again. If problems continue, please contact the library, letting us know which browser (e.g. Chrome, Safari) you are using.

Credo Reference
Large collection of online reference books on a huge range of subjects. May be more useful for background information than art-specific content.

Directory of Open Access Journals
Free academic journals on many subjects, with a reasonable amount of art-related material can be searched by journal or article subject.

Ebook Central
Access to over 75,000 academic e-books. You need to create your own free account to access all features, including downloading whole books, adding notes and highlighting passages of interest to you. However this account is not needed for reading online, or downloading single pages or chapters. Ebook Central is particulatly good for general business titles and some key art titles.
ProQuest's guide to Ebook Central
list of other e-book collections

EBSCO: combined search
Simultaneously searches all EBSCO databases at once, including Academic Search Premier, Art & Architecture Source and Business Source Premier. it is also possible to search individual databases, or any combination of two or more databases. Art Source includes the material previously found in Art Full Text, Art Index Retrospective and Art & Architecture Complete.

Google Scholar
An alternative to Summon for finding scholarly material from many sources at once. Includes scholarly material not indexed by the main Google search engine, such a selection of content from university repositories. Does not personalise your results, unlike the main Google search engine. There are two ways of using Scholar to link to SIA databases:

  • follow a link such as this from the library website, or:
  • on the Scholar homepage, choose Settings from the top menu, and then Library links from the menu on the left. Enter Sotheby's in the search box that appears, and you should be given the option to tick and then save Sotheby's Institue of Art - New York/UK. Your choice should be saved until you clear your cookies.

If an article or other document is available via SIA's subscriptions, you will see a link "online @ SIA" on the right of the Google results screen.

Harvard Referencing (University of Manchester guide)
The definitive guide to Harvard referencing style, as adapted by the University of Manchester, which MA in Art Business (MAAB) students should use.

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is funded by the Heilbrunn Foundation, New Tamarind Foundation, and Zodiac Fund. The Timeline is a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, as illustrated by the museum's collection. It is an invaluable reference and research tool for students, educators, scholars, and anyone interested in the study of art history and related subjects. First launched in 2000, the timeline extends from prehistory to the present day. The museum's curators, conservators, and educators research and write the Timeline, that continues to expand in scope and depth and reflect the most up-to-date scholarship.

International Cultural Property/Ownership & Export Legislation (IFAR)
This resource contains legislation governing the export and ownership of cultural property from dozens of countries. The legislation is presented in both summary form and as complete text; the latter in the original language and in translation. Selected historical legislation is also included, as, while superseded or amended, it can be useful for researchers looking for statutes applicable at the time of the acquisition, export or import of an art object. There are also links to relevant international conventions and bilateral agreements.
The IFAR Journal is available in paper form in the library (2001 onwards).

(Please email for username and password)
Prices and other information about sales of fine and decorative arts and collectable objects, worldwide. Includes details of upcoming auctions and an auctioneer's directory.

Journal articles, focused on the arts and humanities. An important collection.
SIA's susbcription does not cover the whole of JSTOR. However if you need an article which is not included in the SIA subscription, two weeks' access is often possible by creating a free MyJSTOR account and using the Register & Read service.

A search engine for finding free online copies of scholarly journal articles. Specialises in arts and humanities.

Kanopy (streaming video)
Documentary videos covering a broad range of topics. You can save clips to embed in presentations and webpages. Includes fine art, photography, other areas of the arts, business, and many other subjects.

Modernist Journals Project
Includes online reproductions of early modernist journals. 27 titles have been digitised as of 2015. Also includes some related books and many other features.

Newspaper databases
Please see the newspapers guide for links and other information.

Nexis Uni (previously LexisNexis)
Major database of legal resources, with much business-oriented material. Includes journal and newspaper articles, legislation and other official legal documents. Mostly full-text.

Oxford Art Online
Collects together 5 scholarly reference works that originally existed independently. These are:

  • Grove Art Online
    A great starting point for studying an artist, school, medium or theme. Articles are often detailed and include bibliographies for further reading. Global coverage but particularly good for western art.

  • Benezit Dictionary of Artists
    Global coverage, but particularly good for European artists. Includes biographies, summaries of work, selected museum listings, and often reproductions of signatures, monograms and stamps of sale.

To search specifically in the final three components of Oxford Art Online, first run in a search in Oxford Art Online as a whole. You will then see a link for searching these three together

  • Oxford Companion to Western Art
    A useful supplement to Grove and Benezit.

  • Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms
    Authoritiative definitions of terms in the visual arts. An excellent quick-reference work.

  • Encyclopedia of Aesthetics
    The most substantial English-language reference work devoted to aesthetics. Articles are by art historians, philosphers and theorists, and cover both historical and contemporary conceopts and debates.

Oxford Art Online contains many high-quality images, and it is again possible to filter your search to find these.

Project MUSE
Over 400 humanities and social sciences journals, from around 100 not-for-profit publishers.
Log-in to MUSE not recognised? Clear your browser cache and try again. If problems continue, please contact the library, letting us know which browser (e.g. Chrome, Safari) you are using.

ProQuest: combined search
Searches all the listed ProQuest databases at once including Arts & Humanities Full Text, Art and Architecture Archive, ProQuest Research Library, various newspapers, and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Options are available to include/exclude individual databases.

ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: Humanities and Social Sciences
Very large collection of doctoral and masters' dissertations and theses in the world. Sotheby's Institute of Art - New York dissertations from 2011 onwards are included.

ProQuest Research Library
ProQuest Research Library provides one-stop access to more than 4,000 periodicals from the general reference databases ProQuest has to offer. Search from a mix of scholarly journals, trade publications, and magazines covering over 150 academic disciplines. Full text included.
ProQuest's guide to the Research Library

Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory
An authoritative source of bibliographic and publisher information on more than 300,000 periodicals of all types — academic and scholarly journals, Open Access publications, peer-reviewed titles, popular magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and more from around the world. Also provides information on where a periodical title is indexed and if it is available electronically.

Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)
Includes names and other basic information about artists. Very useful for checking the different names (and variations of names) an artist has been known by. Also a quick way of checking artists' life dates. Artists may be either 1) individuals or 2) groups of individuals working together. Some patrons and donors are also included.
Compiled by the Getty Institute.




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