The Web Gallery of Art (WGA) is one of the best and most extensive of the “online museums” on the web.
The WGA is more specific than some, with a focus on European Art from the Gothic to the Romantic periods (1100 to 1850). The gallery has a search function, as you would expect, as well as an alphabetical Artist Index (at the bottom of every page).
Clicking on an artist’s name in the index brings up either a page of thumbnails, or, if the artist’s listing is extensive enough, text links to two or more sections, each of which has a page or more of thumbnails.
Clicking on a thumbnail opens a pop-up with a large version of the image. (I’ve experienced some problems with this when using Safari for Mac, try refreshing the window if it’s blank. The popup feature works more reliably in IE and Firefox). The popup has a choice of images sizes, though 100% seems optimal for quality.
There is also a column in the thumbnails pages with an “I”; clicking on this gives you a page with a medium size image and text details about the image (date, size, medium and description or background information). The artist thumbnail pages and image detail pages also have a link at page top to the artist’s biography.
An interesting feature of the WGA is the “Dual Mode” (a link at page top), which makes use of frames (a browser feature that allows for the display of more than one web page in the same window) to allow you to either search a list in one frame and have the results display in the other (the default), or, if you deselect that choice at the bottom of the frame, you can search two lists independently, bringing up two different selections side by side for comparison. (In the image above I’ve chosen to compare Titian’s Man With the Blue Sleeve to one of Rembrandt’s self portraits.)
As usual with frames, it’s often possible to find yourself a bit confused and you may need to back out to the front page and start over, but it’s a nice feature if you get used to it.
The Web Gallery of Art has an extensive database of over 20,000 images, lots of information about the artists and the individual works, and nicely includes many drawings and graphics as well as paintings. This can be a terrific resource, and/or a major time-sink.