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The Frick Art Reference Library's book and photograph collections relate mainly to paintings, drawings, sculpture, and prints from the fourth to the mid-twentieth centuries by European and American artists. The decorative arts are a secondary area of collecting. Within these subjects the collections focus on the following:

  • Attributions
  • Iconography
  • Auction sales
  • Object history
  • Catalogues raisonnés
  • Patronage
  • Collecting
  • Provenance
  • Collectors
  • Technical analysis
  • Exhibitions
  • Theory
  • Historiography

Books and Periodicals | Auction Catalogs | Photoarchive
E-books | Electronic Resources | Digital Collections

Books and Periodicals

The book collection consists of more than 228,000 titles and 3,300 periodicals. Approximately 6,000 books are acquired annually through purchase and gift by museums, art dealers, private collectors, and authors. Books acquired as gifts or through endowed funds are acknowledged with bookplates and a credit line in the catalog. For gifts, complete the Gift Form to include with donated items.

For books and periodicals, search the catalog.

For more information, see the Collection Development Policy.

Auction Catalogs

The auction catalog collection consists of more than 90,000 volumes. Catalogs from more than 1,000 auction houses in Europe, Australia, and the Americas, ranging in date from the eighteenth century to the present, are represented. Annotated catalogs and price lists, when available, have been acquired to provide additional sales information. The Library continues to add unique and rare catalogs of early sales. It participates in SCIPIO, a database listing auction catalogs and their locations in North America and Europe.

For auction catalogs, search the catalog.


The Photoarchive is a study collection of more than one million photographic reproductions of works of art from the fourth to the mid-twentieth century by artists trained in the Western tradition. The Photoarchive was founded first and foremost to facilitate object-oriented research; the documentation it offers traces the essential elements of the biography of the work of art — changes of attribution, ownership, and condition. 

For Photoarchive materials, search the catalog.

To learn more about the Photoarchive, see Research > Photoarchive.


The Library has access to thousands of e-books through the EBL service. To read these titles, researchers must be registered at the Library and sign up for an EBL account while onsite. To learn about registration, see Visit > Library > Admission

Please note that there are many e-books, in addition to those offered through EBL, in the Libary's catalog that are freely available and do not require registration with the Library for access.

For e-books, search the catalog.

Electronic Resources

The electronic resources collection consists of more than 2,000 subscription databases and e-journals. Access to these databases and e-journals is only available onsite at the Library. Free Internet resources, which are available from any location, can be found through the Open Access Web sites in the Electronic Resources Finder of the catalog.

For electronic resources, search the Electronic Resources Finder.

Digital Collections

Images of works of art from the Library's Photoarchive, archival documents, and books are available for browsing and/or download.

For digital collections, search the Frick Digital Collections (coming soon) and/or our catalog.