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Lombardy Sculpture in the 12th Century


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.

Research example: A student is studying a sculpture made in Lombardy, Italy in the second quarter of the 12th century.
  • He already has the information he needs on the artist and the sculpture itself.
  • He needs to obtain background information about Lombardy in the 12th century, such as its culture, religion, political situation, and sculpture at that time.

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.

Getting started
  • Use the Art Department Guide as a starting off point for database suggestions.
    • It pulls together the key resources to find journal articles, books and background information on art topics.
  • You will find that tracking down information on this particular topic involves trying out a variety of databases. In some you will find many useful sources; in others just one or two.
  • Remember that if you find a good source on your topic, to check its bibliography. You can see whether any of the items listed will be useful for your project also.
  • The examples below use Lombardy as the geographic search term. You could broaden the search to include all of Northern Italy or limit the search more by picking a particular city or town such as Milan, Cremona, Brescia, or Bergamo. Many art and history articles are written about specific localities.

Background Information



  • Lists every book (and film, journal, etc.) owned by the library.
  • Includes both print and ebooks.
  • Search by title, author, subject, or keyword. For more about searching, go here.

Search Lombard? ( The ? replaces the word ending and thus the search includes Lombard and Lombardy)
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 Italy --History --476-1268 and Italy --History --476-1492 are good subject searches for the topic.

Journal Articles

ITER: Gateway to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

  • The ITER bibliography covers scholarship pertaining to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (400AD to 1700AD). It provides citations to articles in 1,026 journals, published from 1842 to the present, and to books and conference proceedings.
  • Keep ITER in mind when researching the Middle Ages, because Historical Abstracts covers from 1450 on and does not include the twelfth century.
  • ITER Search example:
    • Use the Advanced Search.
      • Keep the default "any field"
      • Search term: lombardy
        • You could broaden the search by adding or Northern Italy
      • Limit to the time period you are interested in by typing in middle ages or medieval or twelfth
    • The search results are limited to sources written in English.

Other Resources

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.

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