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Bridwell|Art Library

Student Guide to the Art Library: Images

Use this guide to learn about the Art Library and discover resources related to art history, studio art, and design.


Ever wonder why it's so hard to find good-quality images on the web? Are you unsure what other resources are out there? This section will guide you through using JSTOR, a subscription database provided by the Art Library, and searching for images on the web.

JSTOR Images

JSTOR is now home to over 2.5 million images (previously found on Artstor Digital Library) from the world’s museums, archives, scholars, and artists, with a specialized suite of tools for teaching and learning with visual materials — all rights-cleared for education and research.

Use keyword searching to find images in JSTOR. Image results will be at the top followed by scholarly articles and other resources. Click on an image to learn more about it. You will see details such as:

  • Creator (i.e. the artist or creator of the work)

  • Title (i.e. the title of the work)

  • Work Type (i.e. the category of the work)

  • Date (i.e. the date the work was created)

  • Material (i.e. the material of the work)

  • Measurements (i.e. the measurements of the work)

  • Repository (i.e. the museum, gallery, or other institution where the work is held)

  • Accession Number (i.e. when the work was acquired by the repository)

  • Subject (i.e. the Artstor subject headings associated with the image)

  • Image Source (i.e. where the image of the work comes from)

  • Rights (i.e. usage rights for the image)

You can add the image to a group, download a copy, cite the image, or get a direct URL to the image page.

A screenshot of Van Gogh's The Starry Night from JSTOR.

One of the features that sets JSTOR apart from other image repositories is the ability to zoom in and out of high-resolution images. This will provide details that you won't find elsewhere to aid your analysis of the work. You can even save your zoomed-in images for inclusion in your research papers.

A zoomed-in screenshot of Van Gogh's The Starry Night from JSTOR. You can see the individual brushstrokes and color variations in the work.

Google Images

While the best experience with works of art come from actually seeing and experiencing them physically, images of artwork online are a useful resource when we are studying, analyzing and closely reviewing specific works of art. While a Google Image search is the easiest avenue, it poses a number of issues for novice and established researchers alike:


  • It can be frustrating to get weird, irrelevant, and wacky results - or find that you have to click six times, only to find that the Pinterest link leads you to a 404 or dead end.


  • The free web rarely indicates if images have been cleared of copyright for using: are we allowed to use this image at all? Is it still protected under US Copyright Law? Did someone illegally take the photo and upload it?


  • Often times, a Google Image search will yield some accurate depictions of what we are looking for (often in a tiny, hard-to-view thumbnail), but with a sea of other images that do not work at all. Sometimes it's obvious which images are good results, but sometimes it's not.

  • Is the information associated with the image correct? (name, work, year, materials, etc.). The information we attribute textually to describe a work for discoverability (called metadata) can be misleading if you are not using a more reliable, vetted, and authoritative source.


  • When using the Internet for images, try scaling down your results by focusing on sources like artist websites (as they provide their images themselves), or museum/gallery sites who provide quality images with correct information. Google Arts & Culture is a much better tool than Google Images.

  • Or, use print books! Remember that the Art Library has many exhibition catalogs and monographs that contain illustrations that you can scan for your research. Many of these images are not readily available on the web.

Image Credits: Screenshots from JSTOR.