Netherlands Institute for Art History
The Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch: Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie or RKD) is located in The Hague and is home to the largest art history center in the world. The center specializes in documentation, archives, and books on Western art from the late Middle Ages until modern times. All of this is open to the public, and much of it has been digitized and is available on their website. The main goal of the bureau is to collect, categorize, and make art research available, most notably in the field of Dutch Masters.
Via the available databases, the visitor can gain insight into archival evidence on the lives of many artists of past centuries. The library owns approximately 450,000 titles, of which ca. 150,000 are auction catalogs. There are ca. 3,000 magazines, of which 600 are currently running subscriptions. Though most of the text is in Dutch, the standard record format includes a link to library entries and images of known works, which include English as well as Dutch titles.
The RKD also manages the Dutch version of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, a thesaurus of terms for management of information on art and architecture. The original version is an initiative of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California.
The collection was started through bequests by Frits Lugt, art historian and owner of a massive collection of drawings and prints, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot (1863–1930), a collector, art historian and museum curator. Their bequest formed the basis for both the art collection and the library, which is now mostly housed in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library).
Online artist pages
In the artist database, each artist is assigned a record number. To reference an artist page directly, use the code listed at the bottom of the record, usually of the form: http://www.rkd.nl/rkddb/dispatcher.aspx?action=search&database=ChoiceArtists&search=priref= followed by the artist record number. For example, the artist record number for Salvador Dalí is 19752, so his RKD artist page can be referenced here: http://www.rkd.nl/rkddb/dispatcher.aspx?action=search&database=ChoiceArtists&search=priref=19752
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- Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie
- Direct link to the databases (artists, images, literature)
- The Dutch version of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus