To better understand a work of art, a researcher needs information not only about the work of art and the artist, but also the context in which the work of art was created. You may need information on the culture, religion, the place, the political situation, history, etc.
The Reference Department researched this question and compiled a bibliography of journal articles, books, and encyclopedia articles for this student. Highlighted below are key resources we used to gather this information.
The search above includes a search limit by language in English as there are numerous books on this subject in Italian. This search resulted in 27 books including the one below. From the record below, note the specific subject, Italy--History--476-1268. This is a useful subject to search.
Both and are good subject searches for the topic.
The examples above were chosen because of the particular research topic, Lombardy, Italy in the twelfth century. However should the original request been even slightly different, for example Lombardy in the 16th century, a different mix of resources may have proven to be helpful in finding information to place a particular art work in its historical and cultural context.