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Performing and Creative Arts

Citing a Work of Visual Art – MLA Style

The following guide is based on the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th edition.

Citing a Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph

Provide the artist's name, the title of the artwork in italics, and the date of composition. Finally, provide the name of the institution that houses the artwork followed by the location of the institution (if the location is not listed in the name of the institution, e.g. The Art Institute of Chicago).

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

If the medium and/or materials (e.g., oil on canvas) are important to the reference, you can include this information at the end of the entry. However, it is not required.

For photographic reproductions of artwork (e.g. images of artwork in a book), treat the book or website as a container. Remember that for a second container, the title is listed first, before the contributors. Cite the bibliographic information as above followed by the information for the source in which the photograph appears, including page or reference numbers (plate, figure, etc.).

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Gardener's Art Through the Ages, 10th ed., by Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner, Harcourt Brace, p. 939.

If you viewed the artwork on the museum's website, treat the name of the website as the container (i.e., the "book"), and include the website's publisher and the URL at the end of the citation. Omit publisher information if it is the same as the name of the website. Note the period after the date below, rather than the comma: this is because the date refers to the painting's orginal creation, rather than to its publication on the website. Thus, MLA format considers it an "optional element."

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV. 1800Museo del Prado, https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-family-of-carlos-iv/f47898fc-aa1c-48f6-a779-71759e417e74.