Michael Rinehart is a librarian and art historian, who was educated at Harvard University and the Courtauld Institute of Art. After finishing his studies, in the summer of 1959he moved to Florence where he assisted Nicky Mariano in the preparation of the new edition of Bernard Berenson’s lists of the Italian painters.
After Berenson’s death and the opening of I Tatti as Harvard’s research center for the Italian Renaissance, he became the first librarian of the Biblioteca Berenson (1962). In 1964 he was appointed director of the Witt Photographic Library at the Courtauld, while later he started working as the librarian at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (1966-1987). His research interests include the classification and cataloging of art historical resources as well as the decoration of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (and the Studiolo of Francesco I) by Giorgio Vasari and his assistants. He has lectured at the Williams College, where he also worked as assistant director of the graduate program in art history.
His major work in art librarianship is The Bibliography of the History of Art, for which he was the editor-in-chief from the inception of the program at the Clark in 1972 until his retirement in 2000, when the BHA was relocated at the Getty Research Institute. During his tenure, the BHA database became the most comprehensive indexing service for literature on the history of Western art from antiquity to the present.
The collection comprises Rinehart's study photographs (1,042 prints), primarily of Italian painting owned mainly by museums and collectors in England and Italy. The bulk of the reproductions depict artworks by Renaissance masters, especially paintings by Florentine and Venetian painters at the National Gallery in London and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. A large part of the photos documents the work of Giorgio Vasari and his assistants in Florence (Palazzo Vecchio) and Arezzo. Other holdings include 17 volumes of rare books and the reproduction of Vincenzo Borghini's sketchbook related to the decoration of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.