The Bible underwent several changes after the Reformation. If you are writing about art from Italy or Germany from before 1500, consult this version. The Catholic Bible includes several books that don't appear in the Protestant Bible, such as the book of Judith. The Catholic Bible is also called the Douay-Rheims Bible.
The Lives of the Artists is one of the first books to talk about art and artists in the early modern period. While it does not directly address artists of the 17th century (it was written in 1568), artists and patrons would have likely read it.
Jacobus de Voraigne wrote the Golden Legend around 1260, in which he described the lives of the saints and the life of Christ, arranged by the day on which it is celebrated in the church calendar. The book achieved dominance in later western hagiographical literature (books on saints)--about 900 manuscripts of his Golden Legend survive. From 1470 to 1530 it was also the most often printed book i Europe. Art historians use this book to learn what painters and viewers knew about the lives of the saints.
Ovid wrote in the early Roman Empire, inspired by Greek myths. His Metamorphoses was avidly read by Renaissance and Baroque artists. This full-text version is a late 19th century translation. For a more recent translation, search the library catalog or see the A.S. Kline translation in this list.
In The Renaissance and Reformation, Merry Wiesner-Hanks allows the historical participants to tell their own stories. She presents a mix of visual sources and written documents not only from learned scholars, trained artists, university-educated religious reformers, and powerful political leaders -but also from more ordinary men and women.