Getting Started with Artstor

Introduction of Artstor, the major database of images for the visual arts and allied disciplines.

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Indexing and Metadata

Artstor uses the original descriptions of the images from the institutions that provided them. As a result, the depth of indexing of the images can vary.

Many fields that appear in the description of the image are searchable through keyword ("in any field" in the pulldown menu). For example, one can search linen, labeled as a material type, as a keyword, which will retrieve objects made of linen. However, the same search can also retrieve objects such as a linen press, which is not made of linen but has the term in the title.

How to Search

There are two options for searching:

  1. Basic (or keyword) search
  2. Advanced search

Basic search provides one search box. The terms entered are searched across multiple elements (or fields) of the descriptions of images. This search is the broader one.

Advanced search offers additional boxes and allows one to search specific fields. It also provides the option of applying filters to specify geographic location(s) and classification(s); one also can specify a particular date or range of dates.

Search terms can be joined by the standard Boolean operators AND, OR, NOT. The operators can be used in both basic and advanced searches.

Advanced Features

Language and examples are courtesy of Artstor.

  Definition Example
underscore (_) The underscore (_) can represent any one character. m_net will retrieve “monet”, “manet”, etc.
asterisk (*) The asterisk (*) can represent zero, one, or several characters. ren* will retrieve “rene”, “reni”, “renoir”, “rendering”, “renaissance”, etc.
dollar sign ($) The dollar sign ($) will expand the search to include terms that stem from a given root. $paint will retrieve “paint”, “painting”, “painted”, “unpainted”, “repainted”, etc.
Capitalization There is no need to capitalize words in searches, even in titles or artists’ names. When searching for Thomas Eakins, simply enter: thomas eakins
Articles You do not need to use articles (a, the, le, la, etc.) before titles or other terms. When searching for “The Judgment of Paris”, you may simply enter: judgment of paris
Exact phrase To search for an exact phrase, put the phrase in quotes (“…”). When searching for the painting “Le Moulin de la Galette” by Renoir, enter: “le moulin de la galette”
Punctuation When searching for phrases or words that include punctuation such as “self-portrait”, you can either use the punctuation or leave it out. The following searches will both yield the same results: self-portrait or self portrait
Word order Unless your search phrase is enclosed with quotation marks (“…”), the order of terms will not affect the search. The following searches will both yield the same results: albrecht durer or durer albrecht