How to Reference Artwork
  • 6-minute read
  • 14th December 2022

How to Reference Artwork

In this article, you’ll learn how to reference artwork in the APA 7th, MLA, MHRA, and Chicago referencing systems. Check out this article to learn how to reference artwork in Harvard.

How to Reference Artwork in APA 7th Referencing

In APA 7th, there are two ways to reference and cite artwork.

1. Artwork in a museum or on a museum website:

Last name, Initial. (Year) Name of painting [Medium/Format]. Museum Name, Location. URL

For example:

Da Vinci, L. (1506). Mona Lisa [Painting]. The Louvre, Paris, France.

In-text citation: (Da Vinci, 1506)

If you viewed the artwork online, include the museum website address.

For example:

Flack, A. (1988). Islandia, goddess of the healing waters [Sculpture]. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL, United States.

In-text citation: (Flack, 1988)

Narrative citation: Flack (1988)

If the work is untitled, include a description in square brackets in place of the title. If there’s no date available, use n.d. in parentheses in place of the date.

2. Artwork in an art exhibition

Last name, Initial. (Year/Year Range). Art exhibition name [Exhibition]. Museum Name, Location. URL

Put the exhibition curator names in the author section and the year(s) of the exhibition in the date section of the reference.

For example:

Spinozzi, A., Lasser, E., & Young, J. (2022–2023). Hear me now: The Black potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina [Exhibition]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, United States.

In-text citation: (Spinozzi et al., 2022–2023)

Narrative citation: Spinozzi et al. (2022–2023)

If the curator(s) name is not available/unknown, move the art exhibition title to the curator(s) name position.

For example:

Feminine power: The divine to the demonic [Exhibition]. (2022). The British Museum, London, United Kingdom.

In-text citation: (Feminine power: The divine to the demonic, 2022)

Narrative citation: Feminine Power: The Divine to the Demonic (2022)

How to Reference Artwork in MLA Referencing

1. Painting, sculpture, or photograph seen in person

Artist’s last name, Artist’s first name. Titles of Artwork. Date, Museum/Institution Name, Location of Museum/Institution.

For example:

Da Vinci, Leonardo. Mona Lisa. 1506, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

In-text citation: (Da Vinci)

If you want to include the medium/materials of the artwork, you can add that at the end of the entry; however, this isn’t required by MLA. If the museum/institution name of where the artwork is housed includes the name of the location, then the location isn’t needed (e.g., Istanbul Modern).

2. Artwork viewed online

In this case, use the name of the website as the container and include the website’s publisher and URL at the end of the citation. Don’t use the publisher information if it’s the same as the name of the website. And be sure to add a period after the artwork date because it’s considered optional information.

For example:

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

In-text citation: (Goya)

3. Photographic reproductions of artwork (images of artwork in a book)

In this case, use the book as a container. Remember that the title is listed before the contributors.

For example:

Da Vinci, Leonardo. Last Supper. 1498, Santa Maria della Grazie, Milan. Great Paintings of the Western World, by Gallup, Alison, et al., Barnes & Noble, 1998, p. 223.

In-text citation: (Da Vinci 223)

Narrative citation: Da Vinci (223)

How to Reference Artwork in MHRA Referencing

In MHRA, references for works of art should include:

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●  Name of the artist (if known)

●  Title of the work in italics

●  Date

●  Medium type

●  Dimensions of medium in cm (depending on the medium)

●  Current physical location/source

Please keep in mind that MHRA uses both footnote and author-date systems. We’ll focus on citations for the author-date system.

1. Artwork seen in person

Artist’s First and Last Name, Title of Artwork, Date, medium, dimension in cm, Museum/Institution Name, Location.

For example:

Henry Moore, Reclining Woman: Elbow, 1981, bronze, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds.

In-text citation: (Moore 1981)

Narrative citation: Moore (1981)

2. Artwork in a book

Artist’s First and Last Name, Title of Artwork, Date, medium, from Title of Book (Publisher location: Publisher Name, Year), page number.

For example:

Ansel Adams, Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, photograph, from Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras (San Francisco: Grabhorn Press, 1927), p. 24.

In-text citation: (Adams 1927: 24)

Narrative citation: Adams (1927: 24)

3. Artwork viewed online

Artist’s First and Last Name, Title of Artwork, Date, medium, dimension <URL> [access date].

For example:

Alphonse Mucha, Bières de la Meuse, 1897, color lithograph, 154.5 × 104.5 cm <> [accessed 11 December 2014].

In-text citation: (Mucha 1897)

Narrative citation: Mucha (1897)

How to Reference Artwork in Chicago Referencing

There are two styles of Chicago referencing: author-date and notes/bibliography. This guide will go over the notes/bibliography style.

1. Citing paintings, photographs, and sculptures

Information on paintings, photographs, sculptures and other works of art can usually be presented in the text instead of in a note or bibliography. For works of art viewed online, add a URL at the end of the note/bibliography.

Footnote: Artist’s First and Last Name, Title of Artwork, Year, medium, dimension, location, Institution Name. URL if available.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Michelangelo Buonarroti, The Slave, 1513–15, marble, 2.09 m., Paris, The Louvre.
  2. Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, 9½ × 13″ (24.1 × 33 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York,
  3. Dorothea Lange, Black Maria, Oakland, 1957, printed 1965, gelatin silver print, 39.3 × 37 cm, Art Institute, Chicago,

Bibliography: Artists’ Last Name, Artist’s First Name. Title of Artwork, Year. Medium, dimension. Location, Institution Name. URL if available.

For example (see Section 14.235 in CMOS 17):

Buonarroti, Michelangelo. The Slave, 1513–15. Marble, 2.09 m. Paris, The Louvre.

2. Artwork reproduced in print

CMOS uses the term “illustrations” to refer to figures, artwork, or art in a book (see Section 3.1 in CMOS 17)

The abbreviation fig. is acceptable for figure, but table, map, plate and other illustration forms must be spelled out at the end of the note/bibliography. Page number(s) go before the illustration number with a comma separating them (see Section 14.158 in CMOS 17).

Footnote: Editor’s First and Last Name, eds., Title of Figure/Artwork/Table (Publisher Location: Publisher, Year), page number, table/fig./chart number.

For example:

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.


If you need help with referencing systems, we have an introductory guide to all referencing systems for you to use for free. And if you need additional help with your writing or making sure your citations and reference lists follow your specified guidelines, our experts will proofread your first 500 words for free!

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