menu

How to Reference a Painting in an Essay


By the time you reach college, you are probably aware of the correct way to cite basic and commonly used sources such as periodicals and books, but you might need to draw information from a wider variety of sources, such as paintings. The MLA and Chicago style offer guidelines for correctly citing paintings.

Citing a Painting in MLA Style

List the painter's name, followed by a period. For example: Picasso, Pablo.

List the title of the painting in italics, followed by a period.

List the year the painting was completed, followed by a period.

List in italics the name of the institution that houses the work, followed by a comma. For example: The Smithsonian,

List the city in which the institution is situated, followed by a period.

The finished citation should read: Picasso, Pablo. Man and Blue Guitar. 1936. The Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.

Citing a Painting in Chicago Style

List the name of the painter, followed by a period. For example: Picasso, Pablo.

List the title of the painting in italics, followed by a period.

List the year the painting was completed, followed by a period.

The finished citation should read: Picasso, Pablo. Man and Blue Guitar. 1936.

About the Author

This article was written by the Pen & the Pad team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about Pen & the Pad, contact us

Photo Credits
  • Jessica Hromas/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images