Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Visual arts

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Image caption[edit]

Here are two different formats for image captions,[1] namely:

1. Lucien Pissarro Reading by J.B. Manson
2. J.B. Manson, Lucien Pissarro Reading

I see 2 is the currently recommended means, but it seems to me to be less intuitive than 1. There is also the ready possibility of confusion with 2 between the name of the artist and the title of the painting. I note that 1 is used in FAs Restoration of the Sistine Chapel frescoes and Salvador Dalí, for example. Tyrenius (talk) 20:54, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

(Lost reply) That bit predates me, but I hadn't taken it to mandate a sequence, which I'm not sure we should do. Personally I more often use 2 (and rarely bold the name), but it all depends on context - sometimes the artist is the more imprtant point, sometimes the subject. Glad to see someone's looking anyway! Please chip in. Johnbod (talk) 21:12, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I usually use 2. Actually I've seen 1 used on Wikipedia a lot, but I think 2 is used most often in print and catalogs. A long time ago a dealer (of all people) said to me - artists name always comes first. I like 2 because it usually is a succinct format. Its good to dialog though, I agree with the notion of bold sometimes, sometimes not. Modernist (talk) 21:59, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Industry standard is a good starting point. I think user-friendliness should be the bottom line. A provisional solution would be to use either, based on who starts the article or what is already on the page. Mixing them in the same article is not desirable. Not sure I see any need for bold. It is not recommended for article text anyway outside the mention of the subject in the lead section. It usually occurs when the article subject is wikilinked within the article, and hence redundant. Tyrenius (talk) 00:13, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Industry standard with or without bold, although wikifying the artist name in blue is sometimes called for, and since most editors aren't privy to industry standard, user-friendliness usually gets the point across... Sometimes I change captions to industry standard and I think consistency within articles makes sense. Modernist (talk) 01:22, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree, generally - I always link the artist, unless there are several by the same (or its his article of course), which I think gives enough emphasis. I like, where possible, to say something about the work, so often end up with sentences like " bla bla bla in Foo by Fred". Once you start that things can be in any order. I don't think we should be prescriptive here, though OTBE I agree consistency is good. Johnbod (talk) 01:31, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
  • I've rejigged the section. Thoughts? Also what else should we cover generally? Johnbod (talk) 01:41, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Heavy lifting[edit]

I'm doing some heavy lifting at Western Painting because of the {non-free} tags there and on Self-portrait and History of painting placed by the image hunters....There is a little banter on Talk:Western painting When I finish western painting I'll remove the tags, and start on the other two articles. Any thoughts? Modernist (talk) 01:59, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I see T has stepped in, much better than I could. Is it really the case that there is a policy saying caption text does not count? Personally I think (as you know) galleries are better with longer informative captions & I see no reason at all (rather the reverse) why this should be less privileged. I'll ask him there. I'm copying this to the main Project talk page if that's ok. - let's continue there. Johnbod (talk) 12:30, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Now part of Manual of Style[edit]

To record the matter, the following is copied from the MOS talk, with the old name as linked header:

This has been in Category:Wikipedia style guideline proposals for some time now. It has been worked on by several people at Wikipedia:WikiProject Visual arts since it was begun in 2005 and is now pretty stable. I would like to add it to the "official" list, and will do so if no one objects. Of course improvements, suggestions or comments on specific points are welcome - please use the talk page there. Johnbod (talk) 13:50, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Now done - page is now at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (visual arts), aka WP:VAMOS. Johnbod (talk) 15:46, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

MoS naming style[edit]

There is currently an ongoing discussion about the future of this and others MoS naming style. Please consider the issues raised in the discussion and vote if you wish GnevinAWB (talk) 20:58, 25 April 2010 (UTC)

RFC which could affect this MOS[edit]

It has been proposed this MOS be moved to Wikipedia:Subject style guide . Please comment at the RFC GnevinAWB (talk) 20:54, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Italic titles[edit]

The text says The title of a work of art is italicised in text, but not in the article title itself. But Wikipedia:Article_titles#Italics_and_other_formatting says Use italics when italics would be used in running text. For example: Taxonomic names, names of ships, titles of books, films, and other creative works, and foreign phrases are italicized both in ordinary text and in article titles. There seems to have been a major discussion about this: a footnote adds:

This was decided during a July–September 2010 poll on the article talk page. See Wikipedia talk:Article titles#Wikipedia:Requests for comment:Use of italics in article titles as well as the discussions that led up to the poll at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#Italicised article titles and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 116#Request for comment: Use of italics in article names

So as that page is a Policy, and Policy trumps Guidelines, I suggest that this page should be updated to reflect that change. PamD (talk) 17:03, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style[edit]

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:49, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Invite for overlinking?[edit]

What is the rationale for wikilinking particular dates in an article? WP:OVERLINK says don't. I think I'll WP:BB and delete the links. --S. Rich (talk) 02:13, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Article titles for multiple untitled artworks[edit]

There's currently a lengthy and contentious discussion at Talk:Arts on the Line over the use of non-free images which hasn't resulted in much consensus. However, it has emerged that if individual artworks are notable enough to have their own pages then fair use images are allowed on the individual pages. Many of the artworks have been given sufficient attention to justify individual articles. However, a problem then emerges with naming. Take, for example, Richard Fleischner's untitled work at Alewife station. Untitled (Richard Fleischner) or Untitled (Fleischner) are insufficient because Fleischner has had at least three major untitled works which may be sufficiently notable for their own articles. Untitled (Alewife station) or similar is not viable because there are no less than four untitled artworks at the station which I plan to have articles about. For the time being I'm working with the clunky Untitled (Richard Fleischner artwork at Alewife station). I would very much appreciate suggestions of a better title to move the article to. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 20:54, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

A possible alternate title I'm considering is Untitled (1985 Fleischner sculpture). Pi.1415926535 (talk) 21:09, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Doesn't he even give them numbers like Henry Moore? How tiresome of him. Are they single works or in editions? Otherwise, name, date, anything that works. If there are 4 at the station it might be best to do one article on the group. Johnbod (talk) 01:37, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, he gives names to some works but no title whatsoever to others. Due to disagreement over use of non-free images it's probably best to have the notable artworks separate for now. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 03:24, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
If the artwork is notable, i.e. it gets indepth coverage at multiple reliable secondary sources they must have some way of identifying it. That's frequently the best place to start for finding a title Nil Einne (talk) 17:44, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Source material from the time of its construction simply omitted text from the title field of a pamphlet; modern sources simply call it "Untitled". For whatever reason, about a quarter of the works constructed for the project had no title. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 17:56, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

GLAM-Wiki Section[edit]

I am interested in creating manuals of style for institutional pages, library entries, and archival/museum collections entries to aid the GLAM-Wiki initiative. Perhaps they could even be written under a section title GLAM-Wiki. Or do people think that it would be better if another article titled something like Wikipedia:Manual of Style/GLAM was created to house these kinds of GLAM-specific templates, and that could be referred to in GLAM learning resources. OR drohowa (talk) 16:46, 24 September 2013 (UTC) Also continue this conversation at the bottom of the Wikipedia talk:GLAM page.

The closest that we have now is Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Visual_arts#Museums_and_collections; perhaps that could be expanded to something like a 'Describing institutions' section to parallel the 'Describing works' one. Or we could fork to a more specialized Wikipedia:Manual of Style/GLAM sooner or later.--Pharos (talk) 01:27, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Might as well do it here for now, at least for the objects. Why not set up a sub-page for a draft. Templates and MOS are generally different things though. Johnbod (talk) 01:49, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
This conversation is being continued at Wikipedia talk:GLAM#GLAM-Wiki Section in Manual of Style? please contribute to discussion there! OR drohowa (talk) 18:48, 27 September 2013 (UTC)


I had just posted this idea and was told of the effort to document source information here.

Would it be helpful to have more info, maybe like a checklist or comparison good/bad table and not reliable sources - linking to places that go into more detail:

  • Museums - good
  • Books - good, unless self-published or use Wikipedia as a source
  • Auction houses, like Christie's, Sotheby's - ok
  • Journals and magazines
    • Print - good
    • Online with an editorial staff or function - good
    • Online without an editorial staff (no tabs or information that mentions staff / editorial staff) - not good
  • Web sites
    • Galleries - generally don't use (sales / promotion / POV issues), unless the gallery is with a museum
    • Blogs - not generally good, exceptions may be news source blogs
    • no social media sites (facebook, linkedin, etc.), personal web sites, genealogy
    • Art based web sites - AskArt, Mutualart, etc. -- this would be helpful to get clarification
  • Primary sources - secondary is preferred, only use if from a WP:Reliable source and there's no extrapolation of the data
  • Tertiary sources - secondary is preferred, some tertiary sources, such as with gravestone / cemetary data, like Find a Grave, may be used if taking the raw information: dates of birth, death, etc.???
And have a bibliography of particularly good sites and books, starting with Women artists article and other good sources. Plus, a section that links to the articles about Reliable sources, verifiabilty, Original research, etc.
I'm not sure about
  • AskArt - can we use anything from here (Quick Facts, artwork), I've seen different takes on this
  • Mutual Art - same as Ask Art
  • Artnet -
  • Contemporary Art Daily, which looks like a blog ("Contemporary Art Group is the organization that produces Contemporary Art Daily, Contemporary Art Venues and Contemporary Art Quarterly.")
If you like that idea, I would be happy to start a draft on my user page. Do you think that would that be helpful?--CaroleHenson (talk) 19:58, 11 January 2014 (UTC)


One situation that the section on title doesn't address is when there are multiple portraits of the same subject by the same artist -- possibly in the same institution. Can one disambiguate using date of painting instead of institutional name? -- kosboot (talk) 18:25, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Your solution for Beethoven (Mähler, 1804-05) seems to me the best there is for this case. Ewulp (talk) 05:18, 25 July 2014 (UTC)

Article titles that include "century"[edit]

I'm working on a GA review of Scottish art in the eighteenth century and haven't been able to find a guideline for use of century in an article title. Is this article title copacetic / ok?

Thanks!--CaroleHenson (talk) 19:16, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Capitalization and art movements[edit]

I was surprised to find that MOS:VA has its own "Capitalization and art movements" section that contradicts the Wikipedia MOS:CAPS rules. Namely, MOS:DOCTCAPS and MOS:GENRECAPS say that movements and styles (genres) are not capitalized, except when they are derived from proper names. This is a very simple rule, and it agrees with the general English rules — see, for example, The Chicago Manual of Style:

8.78 Movements and styles—capitalization

Nouns and adjectives designating cultural styles, movements, and schools—artistic, architectural, musical, and so forth—and their adherents are capitalized if derived from proper nouns. (The word school remains lowercased.) Others may be lowercased, though a few (e.g., Cynic, Scholastic, New Criticism) are capitalized to distinguish them from the generic words used in everyday speech. Some of the terms lowercased below may appropriately be capitalized in certain works if done consistently—especially those that include the designation “often capitalized” in Webster’s. (But if, for example, impressionism is capitalized in a work about art, other art movements must also be capitalized—which could result in an undesirable profusion of capitals.)

(Notice the "undesirable profusion of capitals", which reminds our "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization".)

MOS:VA#Capitalization and art movements instead claims that "capitalization ... is a complex issue" and refers to some obscure guides that do not even exist now. I searched for the origins of that section and found that it was first created and later appended by Sparkit (talk · contribs) at Wikipedia:WikiProject Visual arts, then moved to MOS:VA and since then survived here without much changes. The talk pages apparently do not contain any discussions related to this stuff. Although MOS:CAPS did not exist at that time, the corresponding section of WP:MOS seemed to recommend using the lower case, and current MOS:CAPS does so explicitly.

Therefore, I think, MOS:VA must be brought in agreement with the general WP style by removing that "Capitalization and art movements" section and adding "Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters" after "Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English)" in the MOS:VA#Helpful Wikipedia links section. If you believe that WikiProject Visual arts should be inconsistent with the rest of Wikipedia, please provide your rational reasons for that.

Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 02:39, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Capitalization_and_art_movements. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 02:44, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
  • The "general WP rules" (which are actually full of "area-specific quirks"), do not spring from thin air but reflect the general usage in WP:RS. In these areas the situation is somewhat complex. The advice given is by quotation from the style guide of the leading American art history journal, which in this field frankly outranks the Chicago Guide (though I expect the Chicago Guide has compatible specific advice somewhere in its many pages). As the examples above show, that has grown out of writing about Eng. Lit. How anyone thinks the Chicago passage quoted above is clearer defeats me, and it seems clearly wrong on some points - for example, to not capitalize "Impressionism" referring to the art movement is clearly wrong, as any search of sources will show. Are there specific issues here? The guideline has been much the same for years, without giving rise to disagreements that I can recall. Johnbod (talk) 04:20, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
This, the Association of Art Editors Style Guide, 2013, seems sound, as one would expect. We should add this as a reference. If chicago does indeed say that "impressionism" shhould be used, they are just wrong; it happens. Also, sections 6.3 and 6.5 in this style guide are relevant. Johnbod (talk) 04:48, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
It would be nice if you read more carefully the sources that you refer to. ;–)
The Association of Art Editors Style Guide begins with a warning: "Authors should consult with their publisher/editor before making final stylistic decisions" (which in our case says to avoid capitalization). Then, well before the list of random words that you cited, they have a special section "Art movements, periods, and styles" where the capitalization issues are discussed. It begins with a claim that there is actually no strong agreement, although they recommend (but not insist on) capitalization in some cases and admit that it might be subjective (which, for us, can cause NPOV problems).
The MHRA guide is a little bit self-contradictory. First, in 6.3, they tell to capitalize "when the use of a lower-case initial might cause confusion with the same word in a more general sense", but then, in 6.5, they write "post-Impressionism" as if impressionism had any other meanings. Nevertheless, the section "6.3 Movements and periods" does not say that everything must be capitalized and therefore is consistent with MOS:CAPS (and CMoS).
Thus the claim "If chicago does indeed say that 'impressionism' shhould be used, they are just wrong" look quite strange and unfounded. If you have rational arguments, please provide them. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 09:04, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
You raised the issue and need to produce specific evidence, as I said above. The policies you quote carefully avoid mentioning art - for a reason- & the general principle is firmly based on usage by RS. I suggest you look round the world's top museums/publishers and see how they treat Renaissance and Impressionism. Then come back and tell us about it. Johnbod (talk) 15:00, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
These policies avoid mentioning any particular area simply because they are general. If some people want to differ, it is their responsibility to explain why. I have no idea why some visual-art museums and publishers decided to go against the common rules and capitalize some terms; if you know, please provide their reasoning. However, Wikipedia is not a museum and does not need to blindly follow their trend, especially since not all reliable sources capitalize, as can be seen from examples provided by Ewulp at Talk:Neo-impressionism#Requested_move.
Looking at publishers that are not fixed on visual arts alone, Associated Press does not capitalize, most dictionaries do not:
American Heritage impressionism, often Impressionism
Cambridge Impressionism
Collins impressionism (often capital)
Macmillan Impressionism
Merriam-Webster impressionism, often capitalized
Oxford (AE & BE) impressionism
Oxford English impressionism
Even the Association of Art Editors Style Guide that your identify as a RS explicitly states that there is no agreement! In my opinion, this simply means that we should use our established style ("avoid unnecessary capitalization") consistently, without singling out "visual arts" from other arts (music, literature and so on) and everything else. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 01:32, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Writing conventions develop differently in different fields; why is that a problem? I can't say that I give capitalisation that much thought, but when reading a text about art I would expect it to use the conventions used in art-historical writing; if it didn't I would question how well the writer knows the subject. On Wikipedia we even have some articles in American English and some in British English, according to whichever is most appropriate for the subject (in cases where that's applicable), so what's wrong with some diversity in the idioms used for different topics in this case? Ham (talk) 14:41, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
The point is that the simpler are the rules, the easier it is to follow them. For example, if somebody writes an article about a mathematician who likes impressionism, it is much more likely that the author will follow WP:MOS/MOS:CAPS rather than trying to find a specific MOS:VA (not even mentioned in MOS:CAPS), which might set different rules. The result will be an inconsistent usage across the encyclopedia. Another point is the usability. The rule "avoid unnecessary capitalization" means that if capitalization does not add any information (is there any semantic difference between "impressionism" and "Impressionism"?), it just produces visual noise and thus should be avoided. Regarding AE, BE and other variants, they are too close to separate them into different language editions, and a decision has been made (after discussing it!) to allow them all here, with the requirement to be consistent within each article. If visual-arts editors cannot stand lowercase "impressionism", they can go to Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Capitalization_and_art_movements and express their concerns there. May be, it will be added to "exceptions". — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 00:51, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm happy to do exactly that. Ham (talk) 08:39, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Ok, so as I suggested you have looked "round the world's top museums/publishers and see how they treat Renaissance and Impressionism." You have discovered they all capitalize these terms. This puzzles you (again) so you say: "I have no idea why some visual-art museums and publishers decided to go against the common rules and capitalize some terms; if you know, please provide their reasoning." This shows your fundamental error; they don't need to have a reason or rationale, and we don't need to know whether they do, or if so what it is. It is enough that this is observably what they do, even if in defiance of prescriptivist non-specialist dictionaries and style guides. Johnbod (talk) 19:24, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
It's well off-topic, but it is amusing to see how these prescriptivists tie themselves up in knots by trying to pretend there are simple rules they can apply. Chicago have decided to go with only capitalizing terms derived from proper names: very sensible for Platonism, Darwinism etc, but they then capitalize "Romanesque" as derived from "Rome" and "Gothic" as derived from the "Goths"! But not Renaissance. Ridiculous! AP decide to go with "historical periods", so Renaissance and Gothic are capitalized on those grounds, despite Gothic not actually being a "historical period", except when the artistic style is used to cover the "Gothic age". Equally ridiculous! Johnbod (talk) 20:23, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Please be more careful with your words. I have not looked, have not discovered, and this does not puzzle me. Actually, the examples that I pointed to were clearly against the "they all capitalize" claim. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 00:51, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Oh, which were these, from "the world's top museums/publishers"? Johnbod (talk) 11:40, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

The discussion at WT:MOSCAPS has resumed here. Ham II (talk) 10:31, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Image display[edit]

Currently, in case of landscape images as lead images, the maximum display is 300px horizontal. A user is now allowed to switch preference to "400px". Nevertheless, we should change from 300px to upright=1.35. I.e. 35% larger than normal preference. Therefore, someone with "400px" preference can view a large-scaled image well. --George Ho (talk) 00:23, 29 September 2015 (UTC)

Disambiguation for unknown artist?[edit]

Hello, a question on how to disambiguate the title when artist is unknown. Specific case in question: Battle of Orsha (unknown). I moved it to Battle of Orsha (painting) but it was moved to the "(unknown)" citing MOS. I find it really odd and there is nothing actually in MOS about it. Thoughts? Renata (talk) 23:54, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Yes, I've moved it back. Battle of Orsha (unknown) is clearly silly. Maybe I should add to the text. Johnbod (talk) 14:33, 25 July 2016 (UTC)

Titles for the Faberge egg articles[edit]

There is a discussion taking place on the talk page of the article Red Cross with Triptych egg (discussion located here) on how to name this article, a decision which hopefully will lead to a consistent method of naming these objects on Wikipedia generally. Many of the Faberge egg articles now exist with parenthetical disambiguation titles (e.g., Lilies of the Valley (Fabergé egg) but this is far from regular. My own recent attempt to move the above-mentioned red cross egg back into Red Cross with Triptych (Faberge egg) is what caused the discussion (the proposed move was met with what seems like well-founded opposition). If the red cross egg does not go to a title with a parenthetical, then the question will be: To what title does it go? I understand that there is a strong preference for what various museums call a piece of art, but in the current case this may be more complicated as there are about 60 eggs with names in various museums and the museums have not attempted to harmonize their names according to any particular style. Add to this the fact that Faberge himself did not assign the eggs names or titles, and that the names by which they are currently known are those which have been assigned to them by a variety of art dealers, politicians, businessmen, and heirs to fortunes, as well as by authors of a number of books and by museum curators. I am uncomfortable having the eggs appear under a variety of inconsistent title styles because this obfuscates the fact that they all belong to the same class of object. I am not altogether certain that parenthetical disambiguation isn't appropriate, but the discussion needs more input on this point. Please consider visiting the talk page and reviewing the proposals made there so that we can reach some consensus on this matter. Much thanks! KDS4444 (talk) 04:37, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

Very well said. Help appreciated, and those lurking on this page are most likely to have answers.
Category:Fabergé eggs and its subcategories help a great deal, but can and should we seek more consistency in the article names? Or should we at least, for example, have a redirect from Gorbachev Peace Egg (Fabergé egg) (currently a redlink) and similar, to help readers who have no idea of its title but simply associate it with Fabergé and Gorbachev? Andrewa (talk) 05:59, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Meh. Nobody is listening, it seems. KDS4444 (talk) 13:22, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps not many - but they don't want to start a discussion in 2 places, or just aren't very interested in the eggs. Johnbod (talk) 12:41, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Only just seen this note. There is certainly a problem with naming consistency and a confusing mess of redirects. Seems strange to have an article entitled e.g. Empire Nephrite with no context in the name. Maybe an admin can help the discussion going again. --Lessogg (talk) 12:35, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

MOS:TONE, WP:PSTS, and reviews of fictional or artistic works[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.

Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Film#Proposed clarification of reviews' relation to WP:PSTS and MOS:TONE. This is a request for comments in the general sense, but not a WP:RFC at this stage, being an initial discussion draft (broadened to cover writing about fiction generally), building on a lengthy discussion/dispute at the same page.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  15:51, 22 September 2017 (UTC)