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The digitization of large databases of works of arts photographs opens new avenue for research in art history. For instance, collecting and analyzing painting representations beyond the relatively small number of commonly accessible works was previously extremely challenging. In the coming years,researchers are likely to have an easier access not only to representations of paintings from museums archives but also from private collections, fine arts auction houses, art historian However, the access to large online database is in itself not sufficient. There is a need for efficient search engines, capable of searching painting representations not only on the basis of textual metadata but also directly through visual queries. In this paper we explore how convolutional neural network descriptors can be used in combination with algebraic queries to express powerful search queries in the context of art history research.