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Free Art and Design Resources & Tools

What's Needed to Cite an Artwork

In order to correctly cite an artwork, you need the following:

  • Information about the artwork
    • Artist name, if known
    • Name of artwork, if known
    • Work date
    • Location of repository or work (who owns it, like a museum)
    • Materials or medium
  • Information about the source
    • Institution granting permission for its use (if publishing the image), often owner or published source
    • Author, title, publisher information if image is taken from a book or article
    • Electronic resource or website name where you sourced the work, if applicable

***PLEASE NOTE: If your professor wants you to cite things in a specific way that is different than what is shown here, follow their instructions instead.

Citing a Photo of an Artwork

A white woman stands on a ladder writing the words "Edvard Munch"on a dark colored gallery wall with a few framed artworks around her.

(MLA Guidelines) A Photograph of a Painting or Sculpture

  • Indicate the Institution or Private Owner
  • Indicate the City
  • Provide Complete Publication Information for the Source in Which the Photograph Appears
  • Include the Page, Slide, Figure, or Plate Number—Whichever is Relevant

Examples:

Cassatt, Mary. Mother and Child. Wichita Art Museum. American Painting: 1560-1913. By John Pearce. New York: McGraw, 1964. 

El Greco. Burial of Count Orgaz. San Tomé, Toledo. Renaissance Perspectives in Literature and the Visual Arts. By Murray Roston. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987. 274

APA: There's an Art To it

**The APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) has a section on audiovisual media (7.07, pp. 209–210), but it focuses mostly on audio, video, and TV. There are no guidelines for paintings, sculptures, or more complicated installations (e.g., a chair, a photo of a chair, and a definition of “chair”). So let’s use the Frankenreference concept to model a few ways to handle art in your reference list.

Work of art (painting, sculpture, photograph, etc.):

Artist, A. A. (year work created). Title of art work [Medium]. Museum location: Museum Name.

If artist unknown, start with title. If year unknown, use (n.d.) in place of year (n.d.=no date).

Image of art work found on website:

Artist, A. A. (year work created). Title of art work [Medium]. Retrieved from http//xxxx

Image of art work found on Library database:

Artist, A. A. (year work created). Title of art work [Medium]. Retrieved from Database Name.

Reproduction of art work in book, journal, etc.:

Use book or journal article citation;  In a text citation, include page number.  Any other details about art work can be included in your text rather than as part of the citation.

Photograph you took / personal photo:

No need to cite a photo that you took yourself as materials that are not cited are assumed to be your own work.

Advertisement:

Company name (year or year, month day). Title of advertisement, if one [Advertisement]. format based on medium of publication consulted. 

Print Source Captions

  • Artist’s name (first then last), the title of the artwork (italicize titles of paintings and sculptures but set all other titles in quotation marks), creation date, repository name (including city and state).

  • If the artwork appears in a published source (book, magazine, etc.), give the publication information in place of the repository or location.

Example

Georgia O’Keeffe, The Cliff Chimneys, 1938, in Barbara Buhler Lyens, Georgia O’Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 25.

 

Electronic Source Captions

Artist’s name (first then last), the title of the artwork (italicize titles of paintings and sculptures but set all other titles in quotation marks), creation date, repository name (including city and state), title of the online site, format type, URL, access date (in parentheses).

Example

Rothko, Mark. Orange and Red on Red. 1957, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Artstor. Database, JPG, http://www.artstor.org. (accessed May 20, 2021)

Citing Digital Artworks & Social Media

When you find an image

  • Make sure you note as much as you can when you find the image.
  • You'll need the who, what, & where of your image.
  • The reverse image search on Tineye.com sometimes helps find an original owner of an image if it's unknown.

Start by Collecting info

  • Title OR Description (When there is no title, create a description i.e. man holding a banana)
  • Contributor (can be a username, author, handle, artist, photographer, post creator, or corporation)
  • Website title
  • Publisher/Sponsor (Twitter, Facebook, Giphy, Getty Images, tumblr, FLICKR, Instagram, YouTube, Google Images, etc.).
  • URL (web address)
  • Date Published (When was it taken, created, uploaded, copyrighted, or updated?) OR (No date, Use n.d.)
  • Date Viewed/Accessed

MLA 8th ed.

@Username. "Full text of tweet." Twitter, Day month year posted, time posted, URL.

@SketchesbyBoze. "“Why are you reading books when the world is burning?” Because you weren’t made to binge the world’s destruction and there’s good in pursuing joy where you can find it. Fiction arms us with precisely the tools we need to overcome the crisis into which our world has fallen." Twitter, 19 March 2022, 12:54 PM, https://twitter.com/SketchesbyBoze/status/1505271621820596227

APA 6th ed.

@handle. (Year, month day posted). Full text of tweet. [Twitter post]. Retrieved from URL

@SketchesbyBoze. (2022, March 19). Why are you reading books when the world is burning?” Because you weren’t made to binge the world’s destruction and there’s good in pursuing joy where you can find it. Fiction arms us with precisely the tools we need to overcome the crisis into which our world has fallen. [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SketchesbyBoze/status/1505271621820596227

Chicago 16th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. Twitter post. Month day, year (time posted). URL.

@SketchesbyBoze.Twitter post. March 19, 2022 (12:54 PM). https://twitter.com/SketchesbyBoze/status/1505271621820596227

MLA 7th ed.

Username. "First several words of Tumblr post (if any, otherwise omit)..." Title of Tumblr blog, Day month year posted, time posted (if available), URL.

Cheshirelibrary. "I hang out at the library with all the other cool cats." Cheshirelibrary, 19 March 2022, 1:28 PM, https://cheshirelibrary.tumblr.com/post/189230463800

APA 6th ed.

Title of Tumblr blog. (Year, month day posted). First several words of Tumblr post (if any, otherwise omit)… [Tumblr post]. Retrieved from URL

Cheshirelibrary. (2022, March 19). I hang out at the library with all the other cool cats… [Tumblr post]. Retrieved from https://cheshirelibrary.tumblr.com/post/189230463800

Chicago 16th ed.

Username. Tumblr post. Month day, year posted (time posted, if available). URL.

Cheshirelibrary. Tumblr post. March 19, 20122 (1:28 PM).  https://cheshirelibrary.tumblr.com/post/189230463800

MLA 8th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. (handle). "First several words of Instagram post (if any)..." Instagram, Day month year posted, URL.

example: Cincylibrary. "Libraries (and coffee) rule the world." Instagram, 5 Mar 2022, https://www.instagram.com/p/CauitTKMLph/

APA 6th ed.

handle. (Year, month day posted). First several words of Instagram post (if any)... [Instagram post]. Retrieved from URL

example: Cincylibrary. (2022, Mar 5). Libraries (and coffee) rule the world… [Instagram post]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CauitTKMLph/

Chicago 16th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. Instagram post. Month day, year posted. URL.

example: Cincylibrary. Instagram post. Mar 5, 2022.https://www.instagram.com/p/CauitTKMLph/

MLA 8th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or username or page name]. "first several words of a facebook post..." Facebook, Day month year posted, time posted [if available], URL.

example: Alfie Scholars. "ScholarWorks at Seattle University Features Alfie Scholars’ Conference Papers." Facebook, 7 March 2022, https://www.facebook.com/alfiescholars/posts/4748284058554312.

APA 6th ed.

Lastname, Firstname. (Year, month day posted). First several words of Facebook post... [Facebook update]. Retrieved from URL

example: Alfie Scholars. (2022, March 7). ScholarWorks at Seattle University Features Alfie Scholars’ Conference Papers...  [Facebook post]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/alfiescholars/posts/4748284058554312

Chicago 16th ed.

Lastname, Firstname. Facebook post. Month day, year posted. URL

example: Alfie Scholars. Facebook post. March 7, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/alfiescholars/posts/4748284058554312

MLA 8th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. "Title of YouTube Video." Publishing Website, Day month year posted, URL.

Seattle University. "Seattle University - Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons Time-lapse." YouTube, 13 Sep 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY2aemMVuJI.

APA 6th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. (Year, month day posted). Title of YouTube Video. [Video file]. Retrieved from URL

Seattle University. (2010, Sep 13). Seattle University - Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons Time-lapse. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY2aemMVuJI

Chicago 16th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or single username]. "Title of YouTube Video." YouTube video, length of video, Month day, year posted. URL.

Seattle University. "Seattle University - Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons Time-lapse." YouTube video, 0:53, Sep 13, 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY2aemMVuJI

MLA, 8th ed.

Author [@Username]. “Caption of video.” TikTok, Date Posted, URL.

*Notes: Include author’s real name if known then their username in brackets unless their username is very similar to their real name. If there is no caption for the video, create a description to use in place of a title. Write it in plain text (no quotes/no italics), and capitalize only the first word and any proper nouns.

Example: Remillard, Lisa [@todaysnews]. “#tax #unemployment #stimulus I asked the IRS, YOUR most most popular questions.” TikTok, 5 Feb. 2021, vm.tiktok.com/ZMedmreM3/.

Example 2:  @cbsnews. “How NASA's Mars Perseverance rover will make the most difficult landing ever attempted on the red planet. #news #mars #nasa #edutok #stepbystep.” TikTok, 5 Feb. 2021, vm.tiktok.com/ZMedm1xu8/.

APA, 8th ed.

Last name, first name [or username]. (Year, Month day). Caption of tiktok [video]. TikTok. URL.

Cook, P. [@chemteacherphil]. (2021, September 17). Fighting fire with fire#sciencetok #learnontiktok [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@chemteacherphil/video/7008953610872605957

Washington Post [@washingtonpost]. (2019, December 3). News is all around us #frozen #newsroom #newspaper [Video]. TikTok. https://www.tiktok.com/@washingtonpost/video/6765886712896818437

Chicago, 16th ed.

Lastname, Firstname [or username]. "Title or caption of Tiktok Video." Video, length of video, Month day, year posted. URL.

Example - FowlervilleLibrary. "We love our Coco-bean! #librarydog #library #librarytiktok #librariesoftiktok" Video, 0:36, June 17, 2021. https://www.tiktok.com/@fowlervillelibrary/video/6974795174287363333

APA Art Citations

In APA style, an image requires an in-text citation and an entry in References, just like a quotation or paraphrase. Label each image with a caption that includes the bibliographic information for the image. Give each image a figure number (Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.).

If the image is a drawing, rendering, infographic, or other illustration, include:

  • the title of the image
  • the name of the artist or illustrator
  • the date the image was created

If the image is a photograph of a building, include:

  • the name of the building
  • the name of the architect
  • the date the building was completed
  • the location of the building

If the image is a photograph or reproduction of a work of art, include:

  • the title of the artwork
  • the name of the artist
  • the date the artwork was created

If you don’t see all of this information in the caption of the image or the text around it, look for a separate list of image credits. This list is often called List of Illustrations, Illustration Credits, Image Credits, or simply Credits. In books, it may be either at the beginning or at the end of the book.

Note: Museums rarely credit an individual photographer.

At the end of the caption, insert an in-text citation citing the book, website or other source that you got the image from.

Dark painting of Saturn Devouring One of his Sons, painted with browns and greens to enhance the grotesque nature of the painting. Saturn's eyes are wide and creepy looking, and his son doesn't have a head.

Caption:

  • Format: Fig. #. Artist Name. (date). Title of work. [medium]. Location of artwork. city, state/country.
  • Example: Fig. 4. Francisco de Goya. (1820-1823). Saturn Devouring One of his Sons. [mural painting transferred to canvas]. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

In-Text Citation:

  • Format: (last name, Date)
  • Example: (Goya, 1820-1823)

Reference List:

  • Format: Last name, first initial. (date). Title of work. [medium]. Location of artwork. city, state/country.
  • Example: de Goya, F. (1820-1823). Saturn Devouring One of his Sons. [mural painting transferred to canvas]. Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

 

A dark black stone statue of stylized Egyptian people. On the left, a male figure in a headdress and beard stands shirtless with a female figure in a softer headdress and dress wraps one arm behind him and the other arm holding his left arm in a familial or intimate way.

Caption: If artist is unknown, begin with the title. If the date of creation is unknown, use (n.d.) for "no date."

  • Format: Figure #. Title of work, date (if found in book, book author, date published, page number)
  • Example: Figure 2. Menkaure and Khamerenebty royal statue, c. 2470 BCE (Bell, 2007, p.42)

In-Text Citation:

(last name, Date)

In Reference list: 

  • Format: Artist last name, first initial. (Year of book's publication). Title of artwork [Description]. Institution, Museum, or Collection, City, abbreviated Province/ State, Country. In Author/Editor's name, Book title (p. #). Publisher/s. (Original work xxxx).
  • Example: Menkaure and Khamerenebty royal statue [carved stone]. (2010). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA. In J. Bell, Mirror of the World: A New History of Art (p. 42). Thames & Hudson. (Original work 2470 BCE).

If citing an artwork from a website, such as a museum collection website, you should cite the work and include where it came from. Websites generally don't have page numbers, so that element is left out of the in-text citation.

A very softly painted scene of ballet dancers in fluffy yellow tutus with pink flowers, a floral background behind them.

Caption:

  • Format: Figure #. Title of work, by artist First initial Last name, [medium] ca. year (museum collection, date)
  • Example: Figure 3. Yellow Dancers (In the Wings), by E. Degas, ca. 1874/76 (Art Institute of Chicago)

In-Text Citation:

(last name, Date)

Reference List: 

  • Format: Last name, First initial of first name. (Year). Title [medium]. Institution, Museum, or Collection, City, abbreviated Province/State, Country. URL
  • Example: Degas, E. (1874/76). Yellow Dancers (In the Wings) [Oil on Canvas]. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. https://www.artic.edu/artworks/18951/yellow-dancers-in-the-wings

A stone statue of the Buddha, missing its right arm, seated on a lotus pedestal with several levels of decoration..

If the artist is unknown, leave that element out of the caption, and start the citation with the title or description of the work. If the image is from a website that does not have page numbers, that element is left out of the in-text citation.

Caption:

  • Format: Figure #. Title of work, by artist name, [medium] ca. year (museum collection, date)
  • Example: Figure 3. Buddha, [Limestone], ca. 618 CE–907 CE (Art Institute of Chicago)

In-Text Citation:

(last name, Date)

Reference List: 

  • Title [medium], (Year). Institution, Museum, or Collection, City, abbreviated Province/State, Country. URL
  •  Buddha [limestone], (1874/76). Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. https://www.artic.edu/artworks/86380/buddha

MLA Art Citations

An item that you see in person will have this information in the citation: 

  • Artist's name (last, first)
  • Title of the artwork in italics
  • Date of creation
  • Name of the institution that houses the artwork followed by the location of the institution - if the institutions location is not in its name.

Illustrations appear directly embedded in the document, except in the case of manuscripts that are being prepared for publication.  Each illustration must include a label, a number, a caption and/or source information.

  • The illustration label and number should always appear in two places: the document main text (e.g. see fig. 1) and near the illustration itself (Fig. 1).
  • Captions provide titles or explanatory notes.
  • Source information documentation will always depend upon the medium of the source illustration. If you provide source information with all of your illustrations, you do not need to provide this information on the Works Cited page.

Set against a dark green brocade curtain, two well dressed men in fancy clothing from the medieval period stand in front of a table covered in objects of science. In the front of the men, a skull is painted at an angle so that when the painting is viewed at an angle, the skull is visible.

Captions:

Format: Fig. #. Artist First name Last name, Title of work, year, medium, museum or institution holding work, city.

Example: Fig. 1. Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors, 1533, oil on oak, The National Gallery, London. 

  • All visuals/illustrations that are not tables or musical score examples (e.g. maps, diagrams, charts, videos, podcasts, etc.) are labeled Figure or Fig.
  • Refer to the figure in-text and provide an Arabic numeral that corresponds to the figure. Do not capitalize figure or fig.
  • MLA does not specify alignment requirements for figures; thus, these images may be embedded as the reader sees fit. However, continue to follow basic MLA Style formatting (e.g. one-inch margins).
  • Below the figure, provide a label name and its corresponding arabic numeral (no bold or italics), followed by a period (e.g. Fig. 1.). Here, Figure and Fig. are capitalized.
  • Beginning with the same line as the label and number, provide a title and/or caption as well as relevant source information in note form (see instructions and examples above). If you provide source information with your illustrations, you do not need to provide this information on the Works Cited page.

Example: 

Painted in a soft impressionist style, the painting is of a back room of a cafe with a pool table, cafe chairs and tables, glowing oil lamps, a clock on the wall, and a man standing next to the pool stable.

Print Source:

  • Format: Artist last name, first name. Title of work. Year, location of work, city. Book from which the artwork is printed, edition, by full name of author or edited by full name, year of publication, page number. 
  • Example: Van Gogh, Vincent. Night Café. 1889, Yale University Gallery, New Haven. Gardener's Art Through the Ages v. II, 13 ed., by Fred S. Kleiner, Wardsworth, 1994, p. 666.

Locate as much information as possible for digital images, found on the Internet or in a museum digital collection. If the digital image does not have a title, include a description of the image. 

  • The name of the creator of the digital image
  • The title of the digital image (if a date is in parentheses as part of the title, include that as well).
  • The title of the website that the image was found on
  • The date the image was created or published
  • The location of the image, such as a URL

A photograph of the Black performer Eartha Kitt sits at an angle on an ornate set of stairs, looking to the left off camera. She is wearing a black strapless dress with white flowers as accents, and her face has a serious expression.

Website Source:

  • Format: Creator’s Last name, First name. “Title of the digital image.”  Publication Date, Title of website, URL. 
  • ExampleLucas-Monroe, Lucas-Pritchard. “Eartha Kitt at a cast party for "Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1952"." 1952, Museum of the City of New York Digital Collections, https://collections.mcny.org/Explore/Formats/Photographs

Photograph you took / personal photo (both formats are correct - use one):

  • Format option 1: Photographer. Title of photograph or description of photograph (not italicized). Date photo taken. File extension of the photo (e.g. JPEG file, GIF file, PNG file).  
  • Example option 1: Jane Smith. The veiled stars above. May 12th, 2021. JPG. 

 

  • Format option 2: Description of photo, Place. Date photo taken. Personal photograph by author.
  • Example option 2: Photograph of the night sky with outline of the forest, Sequoia National Park. May 12th, 2021. Personal photograph by author. 

Chicago/Turabian Art Citations

Print Source Captions

If the artwork appears in a published source (book, magazine, etc.), give the publication information in place of the repository or location.

A softly rendered painting of a lake with stars in the sky and reflected in the waves of the lake, painted in shades of blue and purple.

Print source Captions:

  • Format: Full name of artist, Title of work, year, in author of book, name of book (publisher location: Publisher, year of publication), page number.
  • Example: Georgia O’Keeffe, Starlight Night, 1922, in Erin B. Coe, Barbara Buhler Lynes, Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keefe and Lake George (London: Thames & Hudson, 2013),132.

A softly rendered painting of a lake with stars in the sky and reflected in the waves of the lake, painted in shades of blue and purple.

Print Source Bibliography:

Format: Artist last name, first name. Title of work, year. medium, dimensions, 
     location/institution or owner of work, city, state abbreviation.
     In Publication title, by author,

     plate or page number. Publisher city: publisher, year of publication

Example: O'Keefe, Georgia. Starlight Night, 1922. Oil on canvas, 16 x 24 in., 
     Private collection
     In Modern Nature: Georgia O'Keefe and Lake George by Erin B. Coe, Barbara Buhler Lynes
     132. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013

A abstract painting of a soft-edged bright orange square set against a bright red background.

Captions:

  • Format: Artist’s First name, Last name, Title of artwork, creation date, repository name (including city and state), title of the online site, format type, URL, access date (in parentheses).
  • Example: Mark Rothko, Orange and Red on Red, 1957, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Artstor Database, JPG, http://www.artstor.org. (accessed March 28, 2022)

A Photograph of a woman of color crouched on the floor, her back to us, her head turned to the right towards the camera. She has braided hair, and is wearing a patterend high skirt and a white bra. The background is a striped curtain and a checkerboard floor. The photograph is framed by a blue-painted frame with yellow and red painted flowers.

Electronic Source:

Last name, First name. Title of work, year. Medium, dimensions, 
     Location/holder of work, city, state abbreviation.
     url, accessed
     date accessed.

Bibliography Example: 

Sidibé, Malick. Vues de dos, 2003. Photographic print in frame, 18 x 18 3/4 in., 
     J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.
     https://www.getty.edu/art/photographs/,
     accessed 22 Mar. 2022.

ArtSTOR Citations

We at Artstor know that copyright and image use are of great concern to the librarians, instructors, and students who use the Artstor Digital Library. 

Images in the Artstor Digital Library may be used for non-commercial, educational purposes if you abide by the Artstor Terms and Conditions (http://www.artstor.org/artstor-terms). You can feel confident that using Artstor Digital Library Content in accordance with the Terms and Conditions won’t put your institution at risk. However, there are many other collections available within the Artstor Workspace, such as your institutional collections added using Shared Shelf and Shared Shelf Commons collections added by other institutions, and different terms of use may apply to these collections. 

This LibGuide outlines the safe ways to use images from the Artstor Digital Library according to our Terms and Conditions of Use, how to identify the sources of images you are working with, and how to find and use images for publications.

Disclaimer: we're librarians and educators, not lawyers, and this LibGuide is not intended to provide legal advice. Please direct your questions about copyright to your institution's librarians or general counsel.

When Artstor Digital Library Content is used in a way that is a “permitted use” as listed in section 4.1 of the Artstor Digital Library Terms and Conditions, Artstor will protect and indemnify you if you run into a legal issue. Because Artstor indemnifies you when using the images designated as Artstor Digital Library Content, our permitted uses are slightly more conservative than the full scope of Fair Use.

Artstor’s Terms and Conditions, however, are not intended to prohibit you from using an image in a manner that is permitted under the Fair Use exceptions to United States copyright law. When you use Artstor Digital Library Content in ways that rely on Fair Use, but are not Permitted Uses under our Terms and Conditions, you do so at your own risk. Artstor will not indemnify for use of Artstor Digital Library Content that falls outside the specific list of “Permitted Uses” identified in the our Terms and Conditions.

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