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Graduate students' guide to resources in art history: Paintings

Research guide for graduate students in art history lists core resources, print and electronic.

Find out about painting

Carr, Dawson W., and Mark Leonard Looking at Paintings: A Guide to Technical Terms. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum in association with British Museum Press, 1992.

Provides definitions of, and illustrates, terms commonly used to describe paintings, including styles, techniques, textures, and perspective.

Stacks  ND31 C7


Laurie, A. P.  The Painter’s Methods and Materials.  New York:  Dover Publications, 1960.

Intended for the craftsman painter; deals with methods and the properties of materials rather than chemical description or manufacture.  Includes chapters on wood panels and paper, priming panels and canvas, pigments used in painting, how to paint oil pictures, how to paint in tempera, fresco painting, and the preservation and cleaning of pictures.  Keep in mind the publication date – methods of preservation and cleaning may have changed significantly.

Stacks  ND1260 L38p 1960/Repr.


Constable, W. G.  The Painter’s Workshop.  New York:  Dover Publications, 1954.

Intended not as a history of materials and methods used by painters, nor as an instruction manual for painters, but as an overview of “the various ways in which paintings have come or may come physically into being” so as to better understand what a painting is as a work of art.  Includes chapters on the physical structure of a painting; painting processes with wax, pastel, watercolor, fresco, tempera, and oil; and the role of the restorer.  Take the early publication date into account.

Stacks  ND1260 C6 Repr.


Goldman, Paul.  Looking at Prints, Drawings, and Watercolors:  A Guide to Technical Terms.  London:  British Museum Publications in association with the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006.

Provides definitions of and illustrations for the most common terms used to discuss prints, drawings, and watercolors. 

Stacks  N33 G65 2006


Koschatzky, Walter.  Watercolor:  History and Technique.  Translated from the German by Mary Whittall.  New York:  McGraw-Hill, 1970.

Brief introductory sections on the technique and history of watercolor painting.  Includes chapters on the watercolors of Albrecht Dürer; watercolor painting in the 16th and 17th centuries, watercolorists in England, watercolor painting in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in the 18th and 19th centuries, in France in the 18th and 19th centuries, and 20th-century trends in the U.S. and Europe.  Concludes with a lengthy bibliography.

Stacks  ND1790 K6 E


Thompson, Daniel V., Jr.  The Practice of Tempera Painting.  New York:  Dover Publications, 1936.

Chapters on the uses and limitations of tempera, carriers and grounds (e.g. properties of different woods, canvas, and panels), methods of drawing, applications of metals, pigments and brushes, painting techniques, varnishing and framing, and artificial emulsion painting.  Useful at this point for historical information;depending on the date of a painting this book may need to be supplemented with more up-to-date information.

Stacks  ND2470 T46 1962


Wehlte, Kurt.  The Materials and Techniques of Painting.  Translated by Ursus Dix.  New York:  Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982.

Systematic, detailed, decimally organized treatise on the techniques and materials of wall painting and easel painting, special painting techniques, and the technical examination of paintings. 

Stacks  ND1260 W44 E

John Singer Sargent, A Street Scene, Spain

John Singer Sargent.  A Street Scene, Spain, c.1862-65.  Brush and watercolor over pencil on paper.  Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA