List of art reference books

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This is a list of out-of-copyright books and journals about art and artists, available online to read or download. Includes the visual arts, such as painting, engraving, sculpture etc., only.

Encyclopedias of artists[edit]

  • Biographical dictionary of medallists: coin, gem, and seal engravers, mint-masters, etc. by Leonard Forrer (London: Spink & son, 1904):
Volume 1 (A-D) (missing)
Volume 2 (E-H)
Volume 3 (I-Maz)
Volume 4 (M.B.-Q)
Volume 5 (R-S)
Volume 6 (T-Z).
Volume 7 = Supplement
  • Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers (New York: Macmillan, 1903). Illustrated:
Volume 1 (A to C)
Volume 2 (D to G)
Volume 3 (H to M)
Volume 4 (N to R)
Volume 5 (S to Z)
  • Dictionary of National Biography' (Smith, Elder & Co., 1885–1901). Comprehensive biographical resource including British and Irish artists up to the year 1900 or so.
  • Cyclopedia of painters and paintings, by J. D. Champlin & C. C. Perkins (New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1913). Illustrated with b/w drawings of art, artists and their monograms:
Volume 1 (Aagaard to Dyer)
Volume 2 (Eakins to Kyhn)
Volume 3 (Laar to Quost)
Volume 4 (Raab to Zyl & supplement).
Volume 1
Volume 2.

Art history[edit]


  • Les graveurs du dix-huitième siècle (Engravers of the 18th century) by Roger Portalis & Henri Béraldi (Paris D. Morgand et C. Fatout, 1880). French text:
Vol. 1, pt. 1 (Adam to Chevillet)
Vol. 1, pt. 2 (Chodowiecki to Dossier)
Vol. 2, pt. 1 (Les Drevet to Heinecken)
Vol. 2, pt. 2 (Helman to Marais)
Vol. 3, pt. 1 (Marcenay de Ghuy to Robert)
Vol. 3, pt. 1 (Roger to Zingg).


  • Animal painters of England from the year 1650 by Sir Walter Gilbey (London: Vinton & Co., 1900):
Volume 1 - Alken to Gooch
Volume 2 - Hancock to Wooton
  • English painters by H. J. Wilmot-Buxton (London : S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1883). Illustrated.
  • French Painting by R. H. Wilenski (Boston, Hale, Cushman & Flint, inc., 1931). Comprehensive history of French art from earliest times. Illustrated in b/w
  • A history of painting by Haldane Macfall (London, T. C. and E. C. Jack, 1911–1912). Illustrated:
Volume 1 - The renaissance in central Italy
Volume 2 - The renaissance in Venice
Volume 3 - Later Italians and genius of Spain
Volume 4 - The renaissance in the north & the Flemish genius
Volume 5 - The Dutch Genius
Volume 6 - The French genius
Volume 7 - The British genius
Volume 8 - The modern genius
  • The history of modern painting by Richard Muther (London : J. M. Dent, 1907). Illustrated:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4

Biographies of artists[edit]

Individual artists[edit]

Collected biographies[edit]

  • Great English painters by Alan Cunningham (Philadelphia : Jacobs, 1908). Illustrated. Included early artists up to Holbein, then, Hogarth, Wilson, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Blake.
  • The modern school of art by Winifred Meynell (W. R. Howell, c. 1887). Biographies of 19th British century painters. Illustrated:
Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4.
  • Old English Masters by Timothy Cole (New York: The Century Co., 1902). Artists from Hogarth to Landseer. Illustrated.
  • The Wyons by L. Forrer (London: Spink & Son, ltd., 1917). Talented family of designers, die-engravers and medallists. Illustrated in b/w.

Specific art topics[edit]

Art Journals[edit]

  • The Wide World Magazine (Pub. by George Newnes). Travel and adventure magazine (1898–1965). Hundreds of b/w photos and drawings by top illustrators of the Victorian/ Edwardian period.