Skip to main content

Art History: Reference & Introductory Sources

Duccio di Buoninsegna
Maestà; detail of central panel showing Madonna and child enthroned with angels
tempera and gold on panel

Architecture is inhabited sculpture. – Constantin Brancusi

Where to Begin

With thousands of years of source material, art historical research can seem intimidating at first, particularly if you're new to the field, or simply unsure of where to begin. In those cases, general reference materials and other broad-based resources can act as access points for more specific research concepts. They can provide concise introductions to a wide range of art historical topics, while helping construct a framework for further exploration.

The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

  • Presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Heilbrunn Timeline is a visual chronology of art throughout history, supplemented by images and scholarly essays. It can be useful in understanding how different artistic movements are related in both time and geography.

Khan Academy's Smarthistory

  • Part of Khan Academy's mission is to "provide a free world-class education to anyone, anywhere." Smarthistory uses videos and text to tell the story of our collective cultural heritage from an art historical perspective. Narrated and presented by art historians, the nearly 2000 videos and essays provide an accessible introduction to a wide range of art historical topics.