German Artists and Artisans

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    The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts is noted for its works by Monet, Renoir, Vermeyen, and other famous artists.  The Institute also houses a remarkable research library that contains many publications of interest to family history researchers who are tracing families of artists and artisans.  This library has a wide range of general biographical dictionaries of artists as well as many publications relating to the study of specific artisans.1

By searching their online digital collection you may view many portraits painted by master painters such as Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer and others.  You may search for German notables such as Philipp Melanchthon, or Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, or more recent portraits such as the one of opera star Wilhelmine Schroeder-Devrient and be able to view their images. 

Biographical Dictionaries of Artists

     Biographical dictionaries of artists provide basic data about an artist.  They include names and/or pseudonyms; birth and death dates and places; education; the artists' works, awards, exhibitions; and they may provide bibliographic citations to published and unpublished source material. An artist would describe a biographical dictionary in a less ordinary way.  Art historian Merete Bodelsen of Denmark describes a dictionary of artists in this way:

"When the weaver sets up his loom, he begins with the warp, the long empty, unconnected strands.  Into these he weaves the weft, moving across them, binding them together, and creating the pattern.  The Dictionary of Artists provides the art historian with his warp in the shape of its innumerable biographies, all of them subjected to the relentless discipline of the alphabet, and pursuing their invariable course in the dimension of time, from birth to death. Yet all these parallel threads of life which fill the pages of the dictionary tempt the student on to trace another and larger connection, not of artists but of art itself, connecting thread with thread and color with color till at last the pattern appears."

1 The Clark Art Institute's catalog is available here.