The IHR collections have much to offer historians of art and design. Although we don't actively collect History of Art (selected specialist collections are listed at the end of this guide), we have much material for the wider social, economic and political contexts of art. Sources for patronage, collecting and the art trade are well represented, as well as fashions, taste, attitudes, and access to art. The collection focuses on Western Europe and its colonial history but art in other parts of the world can be seen through the eyes of travellers. This guide covers the history of art and design in its widest sense. It covers art history as a subject and also the use of art as a historical source. See also related guides to Garden history, Fashion history, Architectural history and Museum and Heritage studies.
Useful subject headings in the catalogue include: art, art patronage, artisans, artists, decorative arts, engravers, house furnishings, material culture, painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, sculpture. As will be seen from the examples that follow, many of the works containing useful material are not in themselves about art, and research across a wide variety of sources will be fruitful.