Take a Picture: Reference Question of the Week

February 11th, 2013

An interesting reference question that’s popped up a few times this week concerns finding information about old artists and photographers. 

 The best source to start with is Biography in Context.  Type in the name of your artist – you’ll find biographies and articles.  Let’s say we’re interested in Augustus Washington, who was active in the 1840s and 1850s.  You’ll get a results set like this:

bio in context

 The first is an extensive biography for him, and the second is a newspaper article about his work.  If you need more, JSTOR is also a good source for older articles. 

 But what about high resolution images of their photographs or artwork?  You might have some luck with ImageQuest, which includes images from Encyclopedia Britannica that have been copyright-cleared for educational use:

  image quest

But the best source for this is probably a free one – try Google Images.  You can limit to just high resolution images by choosing ‘large’ or ‘larger than’ in the search tools menu. 

 google images

 Or, if you already have a picture you want, but it’s smaller than you’d like, Google will look for a higher resolution version of it.  Click on the camera icon in the search bar, and upload or link to your picture.  Works from before 1923 (such as Washington’s daguerreotypes) will be in the public domain, as all copyrights before that time have expired.

  search by image

 Please contact us at iueref@iue.edu if you need any help finding information on your artist!