Grove Art: Letter from the Editor, November 2012

I feel very privileged to be asked to take on the challenge of the new position as Editor in Chief of Grove Art Online. I remember well what seemed like an un-doably huge enterprise that Jane Turner, as the head of a diligent, professional team, mounted many years ago to build the original Grove Dictionary of Artthousands of entries and contributors. I myself wrote a little article on two Flemish landscape painters, Paul and Matthijs Bril, while I was finishing my dissertation. That was long ago, and the subsequent completion of the Dictionary of Art was clearly an enormous accomplishment. As a professor who has taught European art and architecture from 1400 to 1800 at Amherst College since 1989, I regularly use Grove Art Online as an important resource, both to consult before my classes and to guide my students in the right direction when beginning their research. I know from my colleagues in other humanistic disciplines that Grove Art Online has been an invaluable aid to their own knowledge and writing.

I see my current job as helping a powerful train move to a new track, while preserving the strengths of the original direction and concept and the excellent scholarship it comprises. The articles in the Dictionary of Art, written by recognized experts in the fields it covered, are still invaluable, but there is a strong need to update them, thoroughly and accurately. Also, as we all know, new areas of art historical inquiry have emerged, not just in contemporary art, but in areas of the world in which scholars have become vitally engaged – notably Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Undergraduate courses in these areas have expanded, and professors and students alike need intelligent discussions of art grounded in scholarship they can trust. I am assembling an editorial board that will confer about new scholarly needs in Grove, and help them come to fruition.

Another vital area for growth and expansion is in associating imagery with the dictionary entries, old and new. The world has changed since 1996, when the Dictionary of Art concluded its hard-copy entries, and students of art history have long craved images to associate with the texts. Grove Art Online has made great strides in accommodating this wish, but I think the new editorial board, in association with the imaginative staff, will find ways to include many more images and links to rich sites for imagery. It is my hope that we'll be able to forge relationships with museums and other image providers to enhance greatly the visual experience of Grove Art Online.

A final way in which we hope to move ahead is making Grove more accessible to readers who are looking for an authoritative online source but only get as far as Wikipedia. Grove is already making some of its content available for free, but I hope that we'll be able to make Grove Art Online one of the most visible sources for excellent discussions of and information on artists, art historical movements, and trends, as well as high-quality images – and not only for art historians, but for intelligent readers everywhere interested in art and visual culture.

As a current Fellow at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA, working on a book on art and architecture in queens' residences and their place in the political imagination of early modern France, I find that the more I dig in and think about the subject of my research, and the more I talk with the other Fellows here, the more ideas I have for Grove Art Online. I hope that you will feel free to share any thoughts you might have for a creative expansion of Grove Art Online by contacting me at

Nicola Courtright
Editor in Chief, Grove Art
Professor of the History of Art, Amherst College
Fellow, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
November 2012