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The Silk Road

Citing Works of Art

These guidelines for citing paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art come from the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. Your instructor may have different guidelines for citing images. Consult your instructor or check your assignment to determine the format your instructor would like you to follow. 

This is a quick citation resource offering general guidelines that will apply in many—but not all—cases. If you have a question about how to cite a particular item, contact your librarian or visit the Writing Center for support.

Titles of Works

In general, major works of art mentioned or cited in text or notes should be italicized.

Titles of paintings, drawings, photographs, statues, and other works of art are italicized whether the titles are original, added by someone other than the artist, or translated.

Art viewed in person or online

A note or bibliography entry for paintings, photographs, sculptures, or other works of art should include:

  • the artist’s name 
  • title of the work (in italics)
  • date of creation or completion
  • information about the medium
  • the location of the work

For works consulted online, add a URL.


Full Notes:

1. Salvador DalÍ, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, 9½ × 13” (24.1 × 33 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York,

2. Dorthea Lange, Black Maria, Oakland, 1957, printed 1965, gelatin silver print, 39.3 × 37 cm, Art Institute, Chicago,

Bibliography Entries:

McCurry, Steve. Afghan Girl. December 1984. Photograph. National Geographic, cover, June 1985.

Picasso, Pablo. Bull’s Head. Spring 1942. Bicycle saddle and handlebars, 33.5 × 43.5 × 19 cm. Musée Picasso Paris.

Citing illustrations and tables included in another publication

The abbreviation fig. may be used for figure, but table, map, plate, and other illustration forms are spelled out. The page number, if given, precedes the illustration number, with a comma between them.


Full Note:

1. Jean-Paul Chavas, David Hummels, and Brian D. Wright, eds., The Economics of Food Price Volatility (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014), 167, table 4.4.

Citing exhibition catalogs

An exhibition catalog is often published as a book and is treated as such.


Bibliography Entry:

Witkovsky, Matthew S., ed. Sarah Charlesworth: Stills. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2014. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title, organized by an presented at the Art Institute of Chicago, September 18, 2014–January 4, 2015.

or, if space is tight,

Witkovsky, Matthew S., ed, Sarah Charlesworth: Stills. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 2014. Exhibition catalog.

A brochure—the kind often available to visitors to an exhibition—may be treated similarly.