1. cdaniel
    Offline

    cdaniel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0

    Captions for Paintings

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cdaniel, Nov 17, 2009.

    I work with artists in my profession, many of them do painted portrait commissions as well as other works. Typically, the title of a painting is italicized, right? - or sometimes put in quotes.

    However, I contend that when a painting is a portrait commission and the subject's name is given as part of the caption that it should not be italicized because it is not a title, but the person's name. The exception might be if one said Portrait of Jane Doe, then it becomes a title - just my thoughts.

    Does anyone know of an official rule on this?
     
  2. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    If the painting is a portrait, then the name of that person (with or without "Portrait of...") is the title and should be italicised. It's the convention. The only exception might be if the portrait had another title, but even then you would probably add "(Portrait of . . . )" in italics with it.
     
  3. cdaniel
    Offline

    cdaniel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    After quite a bit of searching around to try and find something perhaps authoratative, I ended up at the London National Portrait Gallery. In the examples I checked there, they do not use italics.
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    One gallery is hardly authoritative...but really, if its for a caption on a gallery wall, it doesn't really matter either way (you'd be better off focusing on the actual text, most galleries do an awful job of captioning their paintings). But in publications, the convention still stands; you should italicise painting titles.
     
  5. cdaniel
    Offline

    cdaniel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    That's why I wrote "perhaps authoritative." Though it is the National Portrait Gallery of London.

    I guess if I had a painting of myself (and I do), I would not consider my name to be the title of the painting - it is the name of the subject.
     
  6. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    there's a difference between the titles shown on the wall in a gallery/museum and what is done when titles are included in a written work... you two seem to be discussing two different situations...

    so...
    cd... are you asking how the title should be typed on the card accompanying the hung painting?... or how titles of paintings are properly typed in an article, a story, or a book?...
     
  7. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    But in lieu of a title given by the artist, the subject always acts as the title, whether it's a still life, landscape or portrait. And the title, in publication, is always italicised. You can't leave a work untitled if you intend to sell it or have it exhibited or featured in a publication, it needs to identified, and if you don't specify a particular title, they will use the subject by default, regardless of whether or not you consider it the title of the work. If you're not comfortable with your name as a title, come up with something else, but unless you do, your name (usually with "Portrait of. . .") must be considered the title of the work.
     
  8. cdaniel
    Offline

    cdaniel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm talking about on a web site which is displaying examples of the artist's portrait commissions.

    So, let's say an artist painted Bill Clinton (one of my artist clients did), in featuring President Clinton's portrait on the artist's site, I would not be inclined to put Clinton's name in italics. That just seems strange to me. It's not a title, it's his name. No?
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    In the context of the painting, it acts as the title, so it would be italicized.
     
  10. cdaniel
    Offline

    cdaniel New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmmm, I'm looking at the web sites of 3 of today's top portrait painters. None use italics for the subjects' names. Maybe this is some kind of "portrait world standard" that has developed outside nomal writing rules?

    Did you know in the world of painting, height is standardly expressed before width? And, I'm not 100% on this, but I think I heard it's just the opposite in photography.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    why don't you go to a fine arts site and ask these questions?... or to one of the major museum sites?
     

Share This Page