Interested in Studying Art History? Start Here

Tips on how to begin your studies into the history of art

Christopher P Jones
5 min readDec 8, 2020


The Angelus (1857–59) by Jean-François Millet. Oil on canvas. Image source Wikimedia Commons

A question that I get asked a lot is: “How do I get started in learning about art history?”

In my experience, most people who develop an interest in the history of art have usually had their curiosity kindled by a meaningful interaction with a single work of art or perhaps the work of a specific artist.

As this initial interest develops, they begin to read articles and browse through books. The kinship with the world of art deepens, but along with it comes a sense that the history of art is complicated, perhaps even confusing. All too quickly, disorientation begins to bite.

This is a common experience. I actually think it is probably the most healthy way to begin looking into art history. Why? Because an interest that begins with a personal connection lays the strongest foundations possible. A love of an individual work or artist can instigate a lifelong passion.

Now to get to the heart of the question: where does a beginner actually begin?

Connect your first passion with a wider setting

My first piece of advice is to return to your first passion and try to understand its place in the…