October 5, 2012
There are many wonderful free web-based research resources for the study of art history, but how do we know how to find them or if they are reliable? For the last few years, staff at the Frick Art Reference Library have been selecting, evaluating, and cataloging such websites. They are available in the Frick Art Reference Library catalog. A recent example is "British Artists' Suppliers, 1650–1950." This is a resource put together by the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), London, under the editorship of Jacob Simon. It is based on trade directories, suppliers' catalogs, and advertisements, as well as diaries and other biographical sources such as the recently released 1911 Census records. It is constantly evolving and is hosted by a reliable and trusted organization. I came across this useful resource when answering an inquiry from the National Numismatic Collection, Washington, D.C. about a sketchbook it owns by George T. Morgan, the designer of the Morgan Dollar. On the inside cover of the sketchbook is a small green sticker which reads "E. Norton's Artists' Repository / (from New Street) / 29, Paradise St / Birmingham." If you look up Norton in the NPG directory, you learn that the move to Paradise Street took place in 1866, giving a "not before" date. Incidentally, a descendant of Elizabeth Norton would be the creator of the famous Norton motorbike.