Three special kinds of art books that can really help:
"All the works of an artist". A scholar or a group of scholars documents every work of an artist's career. Each work is pictured, with scholarly opinions, provenance (where the work has been), literature about the work, and spurious works (forgeries). The first place to start when researching an artist or individual work. Not all artists have catalogues raisonnés.
Toulouse-Lautrec : the complete graphic works : a catalogue raisonné : the Gerstenberg collection by Adriani, Götz, 1940- (New York, N.Y. : Thames and Hudson, 1988.)
> check this website to see if a catalogue raisonné was ever issued for your artist.
Like a catalogue raisonné, only for a single kind of object. Famous corpora are written for Greek pottery (Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum), stain glass windows (Corpus Vitrirarum) and Florentine altarpieces (Offner).
The medieval stained glass of Wells Cathedral by Ayers, Tim, 1958- (Oxford : Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2004.) Corpus vitrearum Medii Aevi. Great Britain ; v. 4
Permanent Holdings Catalogs (of museums)
Detailed catalogs of a period or genre of art in a particular museum. Like a catalogue raisonné, it will contain a collection of scholar's opinion on an object, conservation reports, provenance and literature (written about it). If you know of the location of a work of art, check for permanent holdings catalogs.
Italian paintings of the fifteenth century by National Gallery of Art (U.S.) (Washington : National Gallery of Art ; New York : Distributed by Oxford University Press, c2003.)