Reference Services


In addition to supporting the research of the Museum staff, the Helen Farr Sloan Library is committed to fulfilling the art historical informational needs of scholars, researchers, students, and the general public, particularly as they relate to the collection of the Delaware Art Museum.

The Library can best answer the following types of questions:

  1. Questions regarding works of art in the Museum’s permanent collection.
  2. Questions regarding artists whose work is part of the permanent collection of the Museum.
  3. Questions about the following: the Pre-Raphaelites, Howard Pyle and his students, John Sloan and “The Eight”, American art and artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Library staff CAN NOT provide appraisals or authentications of works of art or illustrations.

ART RESEARCH FAQS

  1. How do I find information about an artist?
  2. How do I find information about an object/painting in the Delaware Art Museum Collection?
  3. How can I find information about a work of art?
  4. How much is my work of art worth?
  5. How do I find a conservator for my work of art?
  6. Can I get reproductions of works in the Museum collection?
  7. May I reproduce a work in the Museum collection?
  8. What does “Fair Use” mean?

Q. How do I find information about an artist?
A. The best way to learn about an artist is to work from general to more specific sources.

Start with a general source such as an encyclopedia or biographical dictionary. An excellent source is the Dictionary of Art , New York : Grove Press, 1996. Most large public libraries and some school libraries will have this in their reference section in print or online.

Use the index, looking for words that describe your interest: names (such as Edward Hopper), media (painting, photography), places ( London, Beijing), art movements (Impressionism, Ashcan School) or works (“Summertime”). Let the entries guide you to articles.

Also, look for specific sources in the bibliography at the end of each article. Most useful are artist monographs (a book all about one artist, such as the catalog from a major retrospective exhibition), biographies and periodical articles. Search for the books and periodicals in your local library catalog. These too usually have bibliographies, pointing you to still more sources.

Some general sources about artists are:

Who’s Who in American Art , New Providence, NJ: Marquis Who’s Who. Yearly.
Havilice, Patricia P. Index to Artistic Biography and Supplement, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1973, 1981.
Falk, Peter H. and Lewis, Audrey M. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975, Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.
International Dictionary of Art and Artists, Chicago: St. James Press, 1990.
Mantle Fielding’s Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers, Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo Books, 2nd ed., 1986.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs, Paris: Librarie Grund, 1976.

You may also find useful information in periodical articles. Most large public libraries will have print or online periodical indexes in their reference section. In particular, see:

Art Index , New York: H.W. Wilson, 1929-.
ArtBibliographies Modern, Santa Barbara, CA: G.K. Hall, 1973-.
Bibliography of the History of Art, Santa Monica, CA: J. Paul Getty Trust/Vandoeuvre-lès- Nancy, France: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1973-.

Also consult major publications about the artist. Check your local library catalog by subject under the artist’s name.

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Q. How do I find information about an object/painting in the Delaware Art Museum Collection?
A. Although the Delaware Art Museum does not yet have one comprehensive collection catalog available for public use, the following books feature major works in the Museum collection (all available at the Museum Library, and most available at public and academic libraries as well)

Elzea, Rowland. The Pre-Raphaelite Collections of the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1978, 1984.
Toohey, Jeanette M. Pre-Raphaelites: The Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Collection of the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1985.
Hawkes, Elizabeth H. American Painting and Sculpture: Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1975.
Elzea, Rowland. The American Illustration Collections of the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1991.
Hawkes, Elizabeth H. John Sloan’s Illustrations in Magazines and Books, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1993.
Elzea, Rowland. John Sloan: Spectator of Life, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1988.
Howard Pyle: Diversity in Depth, Wilmington, DE: Delaware Art Museum, 1973.

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Q. How can I find information about a work of art?
A. A good first step is to seek a catalog raisonné of the artist. A catalog raisonné is a publication (usually a book) that attempts to list all works by one artist. The entry for each work sometimes includes a list of scholarly sources where the work has been discussed.

For a less well-known art work, search for the title or artist in an index of art periodicals such as the Art Index, New York: H.W. Wilson, 1929-. Check your local library for holdings.

Also consult major publications about the artist. Check your local library catalog by subject for the artist’s name.

There is a good chance that the museum owning the work of art will have assembled some information about it. Contact the museum’s library to gain access to this information.

Q. How much is my work of art worth?
A. As a matter of policy, the Library does not offer appraisals, evaluations or authentications of works of art.

One way to determine monetary value of a work is to find auction results for other works by that artist. For an excellent introduction to auction research, see the New York Public Library’s Auction Sales Index research guide .

Another way to determine monetary value of a work is to contact an auction house, art dealer or appraiser. For referral to an appraiser, contact the Appraisers Association of America, Inc., 60 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10165, 212-867-9775 http://www.appraisersassoc.org/ or the American Society of Appraisers, P.O. Box 17625 Washington DC 20041, 800-ASA-VALU, http://www.appraisers.org/

For an introduction to valuation see: Soucy, Patricia C. and Smyth, Janella N. The Appraisal of Personal Property: Principles, Theories and Practice Methods for the Professional Appraiser, Washington, DC: American Society of Appraisers, 1994.

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Q. How do I find a conservator for my work of art?
A. The Library keeps a list of recommended conservators in the area. Contact the Library and the list can be emailed or faxed to you.

Q. How can I obtain reproductions of works in the Museum collection?
A. Slides, postcards, posters and other reproductions are available for purchase at the Museum Store. Call 302-571-9590.

Q. May I reproduce a work in the Museum collection?
A. Unauthorized commercial publication or exploitation of images with Delaware Art Museum copyright is specifically prohibited. Anyone wishing to use any images for commercial use, publication, or any purpose other than “Fair Use,” as defined by law, must request and receive prior written permission. Please see the Rights and Reproductions section of the website.

Q. What does “Fair Use” mean?
A. U.S. copyright law governs photocopies and other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law as “Fair Use,” libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “Fair Use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.

For detailed information on “Fair Use” see Chapter 1, Section 107.  Limitations on exclusive rights: fair use (From Copyright Law of the United States of America. Washington, DC: US Copyright Office, 1998).