Reference sources and links
The accepted UK standard for the cataloguing of museum objects (as well as other collection management tasks) is Spectrum (http://collectionstrust.org.uk/spectrum/). Most commercially available cataloguing software is compliant with Spectrum.
Structured vocabularies for artist names, geographic names, and art terms can be found at http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/index.html
Tate Papers contain excellent examples of the research process, e.g. Natasha Walker, Karen Hearn, Joyce H. Townsend, ‘Tate’s Painting of a Man in Tudor Costume: A Sixteenth-Century Portrait or a Nineteenth-Century Pastiche?’, Tate Papers, Issue 20, 19 November 2013 http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/tates-painting-man-tudor-costume-sixteenth-century-portrait-or
The Getty Research Institute’s selection of Search Tools and Databases (http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/index.html) is very comprehensive. Of particular use is the Research Guides and Bibliographies page (http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/guides_bibliographies/index.html)
Artist names, biographies and signatures
A useful name standard is the Getty’s Union List of Artist Names http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabularies/ulan
Two outstanding reference sources, The Dictionary of Art and Benezit Dictionary of Artists, previously only available in book form, are now available online. Your local public or university library may be able to give you access online within the library, or from home, at www.oxfordartonline.com. You will need your library card number.
Turner, Jane, ed. The Dictionary of Art. 34 vols. New York: Grove, 1996.
Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire Critique et Documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs de Tous les Temps et de Tous les Pays. 14 vols. Paris: Gründ, 1999.
Askart (www.askart.com) and Artcyclopedia (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/) have images from auction sales and the Web Gallery of Art (http://www.wga.hu/index.html), concentrates on better known artists.
For British artists:
Wood, Christopher. Dictionary of Victorian Painters. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 2 vols, 1995.
Johnson, J., and Greutzner, A. British Artists 1880–1940. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1999.
Buckman, David. Dictionary of Artists in Britain Since 1945. Bristol: Art Dictionaries, 1998.
Harris, Paul & Julian Halsby. The Dictionary of Scottish Painters: 1600 to the Present. Edinburgh: Canongate, 1998.
Rees, T. Mardy. Welsh Painters, Engravers, Sculptors (1527–1911). Carnarvon: Welsh Pub. Co., 1912.
Snoddy, Theo. Dictionary of Irish Artists: 20th Century. Dublin: Wolfhound, 1996.
Wood, Jeremy. Hidden Talents: A Dictionary of Neglected Artists Working 1880–1950. Billingshurst: Jeremy Wood Fine Art, 1994.
For more reference books on artists see http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/study-guide-artists/
Artists’ signatures and monograms can be checked using http://www.artistssignatures.com/index.php
Castagno, John. Artists' Monograms and Indiscernible Signatures: An International Directory, 1800–1991. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.
Castagno, John. European Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1990, Including Selected Artists from Other Parts of the World. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Castagno, John. Old Masters: Signatures and Monograms, 1400–Born 1800. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996.
Caplan, H. H. and Bob Creps. Encyclopedia of Artists' Signatures, Symbols & Monograms: Old Masters to Modern, North American & European plus More; 25,000 Examples. Land O'Lakes, FL: Dealer's Choice Books, 1999.
The catalogues of the Royal Academy winter loan exhibitions of Old Master paintings from 1870–1939 are online: http://www.racollection.org.uk/ixbin/indexplus?_IXACTION_=file&_IXFILE_=templates/pages/exhibition_list.html
Some exhibition exhibitors’ lists are also online:
Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors… 1769–1904, 1905–1906, is at: http://www.archive.org/stream/royalacademyofar01grav#page/n9/mode/2up
Algernon Graves, The Society of Artists… Free Society of Artists. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors…, 1907, is http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924020694513#page/n13/mode/2up
Algernon Graves, The British Institution 1806–1867. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors…, 1908 is at http://digital.library.yale.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/rebooks/id/128475/rec/19
Similar lists have been published for: the Royal Society of British Artists 1824–1893 and New English Art Club 1888–1917; the Royal Scottish Academy 1826–1990; the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts 1861–1989; the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts 1826–1979; and Irish Art Societies... 1870–1980.
Libraries and Archives
Apart from your local museum, reference library and record office – essential for local research – two invaluable national resources are:
The National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum (http://www.vam.ac.uk/page/n/national-art-library/), registering in advance is recommended.
The Witt Library, Courtauld Institute (http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/research/photographic/witt/), accessible for a small fee.