Image Databases

Galleries and Museums

Most museums and galleries now have part of their collection online, below is a list of some of the most comprehensive and useful databases. If you know of any useful image databases that are not listed below please get in touch.

British Museum

main websiteimage database.

This database has over 1.5 million objects from the collection. Including a large amount of the prints and drawings collection. The record for most items gives the full title, author, materials, date, school/style, culture, dimensions and inscriptions, a short description, bibliographic details and provenance. You can also order high quality digital images for use in personal study or for small run academic publications free of charge, they are usually emailed to you within 24 hours.

Victoria & Albert Museum main websiteimage database

Big database, with around 30 000 works, the image database was recently relaunched and is now easier to use with more records. Some records are minimal and may not have images but there here are also highly detailed records with high quality images. Like the BM they allow free downloads of high quality images for scholarly and non-profit use.

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBApix)- homepage

Drawings and photographs of architecture from the RIBA collection. Images can be ordered from the site.

Louvre Museum Databaseshomepage

Basics are in English though searches are in French. There are several databases including links to general databases for French collections: Atlas Database of exhibits (Louvre), Inventory of the Department of Prints and Drawings (Louvre), LaFayette Database of American art that entered France before 1940, Online catalogue of Coptic ceramics, Database of British Art in French Museums.

National Gallery London - research homepage

Metropolitan Museum, New Yorkcollection database

Museo del Prado, Madridcollection search

The Frick Collectioncollection database.

The Frick also provides access to the Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America and The Montias Database of 17th Century Dutch Art Inventories.

The Getty Museumphoto study collection

Range of ancient to 20th century art and design. Also includes several photography collections.

Biblioteca Ambrosiana –  Online Inventory-Catalogue of the Ambrosiana Drawings

Includes French and German drawings, as well as works by Italian artists, such as Raphael, Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Ludovico Carracci, Guido Reni, and Guercino.

Uffizi Uffizi, Halta Definizione - This is not a database of the Uffizi collection as such (wish there was one!) but a website that has high quality images of some of the Uffizi’s best known works of art, including Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’, Caravaggio’s ‘Bacchus, Bronzino’s ‘Portrait of Eleonara di Toledo’, and others. You can zoom very close and the site also shows measurements.

British Library – Online Gallery –  Has a focus on books but also includes manuscripts, maps and books with engravings.

Other databases

ArtSTOR (you will need to have access via an institutional subscription) – homepage

ARTstor is a not-for-profit digital library of more than one million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences with a suite of software tools to view, present, and manage images for research and pedagogical purposes.

Web Gallery of Art - main site

A database of European painting and sculpture from 11th to mid-19th centuries. Images can be downloaded and used for personal study or teaching.

Catena Digital Archivemain site

This site is run by the Bard Graduate Center and provides high quality images which include modern and historical photos of gardens as well as images of prints or rare books. It has a particular focus on Italian gardens. You can either search or browse. You need to register and use specific software to view images. (The search on the Catena site no longer seems to work but you can still access the images via Luna Imaging here).

Art and Architecture UKmain site

This site has more than 40 000 images. It was set up by the Courtauld Institute of Art. It includes selections from the Courtauld’s own collections as well as images from other collections in the UK and photos of various buildings and landscapes in the UK and elsewhere. You can place orders for images through the site.

Picture Australiasearch the database

Both these searches are run through the National Library of Australia and include images from various public libraries and museum collections see the list here.

Bridgeman Art Libraryhomepage

Includes images from over 8,000 collections and more than 29,000 artists. You can also place an order for reproduction rights.

Joconde - homepage

Catalogue of the collections of the museums of France, including the Louvre (but also see the Louvre specific databases above as they are not entirely integrated).

Luna Imaginghomepage

Various digitised collections. Includes Americana, poster collections, historical maps, early books etc.

Artcyclopedia - homepage

A basic but useful search that allows you to search by artist and provides links to their works of art in various collections.

Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture: Image and Text Collectionshomepage

Includes images and reproductions of early printed books. Focus on early America as well as European resources.

African and Asian Visual Artist’s Archivehomepage

Beinecke Rare Books, Manuscripts, Photographs and Art (Yale University) – Digital Image Library

Search for photographs, textual documents, illuminated manuscripts, maps, works of art, and books from the Beinecke’s collections. Includes digital images of Italian Renaissance Festival books, Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, fifth-century hand-painted tarot cards, photographs of 19th century China, posters from France in 1968, posters and ephemera from the World’s Fairs and much more.

Digitaler Porträtindexhomepage

A project initiated at the Deutsche Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg in cooperation with seven public institutions (museums and libraries in Germany and Austria): ‘Digitaler Porträtindex druckgraphischer Bildnisse der Frühen Neuzeit’ (‘Digital Index of Printed Portraits of the Early Modern Period’). (Website in German).

Islamic Manuscripts - homepage

A guide to Islamic manuscripts online from different collections.

Commercial Providers

Art Resourcehomepage Art Resource is the worlds largest fine art stock photo archive, licensing authorized images to all media.

Bildarchiv fuer Kunst und Architektur, Marburghomepage German site with about 2 million images of art and architecture in 13 European countries (Site in German).

Alinari Archivehomepage The Alinari archive has a catalogue of over 260,000 pictures available to professionals who use photographs and pictures, both in traditional and in multimedia publishing.

Scala Archiveshomepage This archive has works of art from all over the world, covering every age and every field of visual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, archaeology, the ancient & the modern world, decorative arts, photography, design, fashion etc.) has a focus on Italy. Images can be ordered for publication/media use as well as low resolution images for non-commercial use.

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