Dick Johnson submitted this news about the Benezit directory of international artists. Thanks!
Oxford University Press has just acquired the rights to place the English language edition of the full 14 volumes of Benezit online. Benezit is the French directory of international artists now covering biographical data on 170,000 world artists. First published in 1911 it has progressed through eight editions, from 3,000 pages in early editions to 20,608 pages in the latest printed format, first offered in English in 2006.
Oxford has merged Benezit artist biographical information with the 34-volume Grove Art Dictionary, with illustrations and listings of artists' work with references to published articles and other data for more in-depth information and where to obtain even more. Oxford acquired Grove Art in 2003.
This massive art reference information resource can now be accessed with an Oxford subscription for individuals of $195 per year (or $19.95 per month). Or perhaps visit your nearby college or large city library where they might have an institution subscription allowing researchers free access. More info at oxfordindex.oup.com
I was enamored with Benezit for the last ten years as I was (still am) compiling a directory of American Artists of Coins and Medals. I acquired my printed set of Benezit in 2007 after I learned the English version had only become available in 2006. I reported on this in The E-Sylum (December 2, 2007; Vol 10, No 49, Art 9). I turned over every page of those 14 volumes searching for the 3,356 artists I knew made American coins and medals (took me six weeks!).
This produced slightly over 700 hits allowing me to cite the Benezit reference to my artist listing -- and flesh out other biographical data I was missing. Dates of birth and death are most important placing artists in a correct quadrant of American coin and medal production. I still find Benezit useful for checking on newly uncovered artists as I touted in The E-Sylum in 2007.
Those 700 hits are less than one percent of the estimated 7,700 artists of North America, that Oxford claims are currently online. This is in contrast to the 65,000 American artists listed in Peter Hastings Falk's three-volume work, Who Was Who in American Art, published 1999. I found 1,135 coin and medal artists listed therein (2.06%). Perhaps this figure is high as I had some input by furnishing Falk my entire databank. His editors added many of those artists' entries.
William A. Burd (Chicago Coin Company) read that E-Sylum article and bought two of the English language sets. One set he donated to ANS in New York, and one he placed in his shop library. (Reported in E-Sylum February 1, 2009, Vol 12. No 5, Art 7). He allows customers to research numismatic information among the 12,000 volumes he has on tap in his coin store.
While I did not search the entire 34 volumes of Grove Art Directory, I did spot check it for known coin and medal artists and found the content rather weak for such artists and numismatic content. I have not cited it at present in my databank but with internet access this may be useful for others.
My current plan is not to publish my databank as a hardbound book, but rather place American Artists of Coins and Medals, Diesinkers, Engravers, Medallists and Sculptors on the internet this year for free access to everyone. I have three advertisers lined up who wish to have their advertising message on that databank. These are dealers who believe this will attract viewers who have medals and tokens they are seeking to identify and sell.
Also the databank would be ideal for numismatic writers who seek accurate information on the artists of numismatic items they are writing about. If you are such a writer contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Be specific in your artist request.
Wayne Homren, Editor
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