Titles or Names


The title[s] or name[s] given to a work of art, as well as the type of title, and the date[s] when the title was valid.




Each separate title or name should be identified through the repeating occurrences of the TITLES OR NAMES set of subcategories.



Titles or Names -Text


The identifying phrases given to a work of art.


Venus and Cupid
Les Adieux de Télémaque et Eucharis [Figure 6]
The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis [Figure 6]
Polyptych with St. James Major, Madonna and Child, and various Saints [Figure 2]
Virgin of the Rocks
La vierge à l'hostie
Battle of Little Big Horn
Adoration of the Magi [Figure 24]
Portrait Study of a Man [Figure 32]
Portrait of Cosimo I de' Medici [Figure 8]
Queen Dedes as Prajnaparamita
Eight Scenes of the Xiao-Xiang rivers
Sketches and studies after Roman tombs
Site plan for the Opera at the Place du Palais Royal, Paris
Sculptural group of two griffins attacking a fallen doe [Figure 11]
Male Torso
Noli me tangere
The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even
Death and Fire
Nave Nave Mahana
Asante figurative goldweight
Lidded bowl on stand [Figure 1]
Finger-ring amulet
Chandelier [Figure 4]
Number one


Works of art may be given many different titles or names throughout history from a variety of sources, which may include the artist, a prior owner, or a scholar writing in a published work. All titles or names by which a work has been known should be indicated in this subcategory.

It is useful to the researcher to know the former titles, names, or phrases by which a work may have been known; when qualified with the TITLES OR NAMES - DATE subcategory, a former title provides information about the interpretation of a work at a certain time.

Decorative, non-Western, or archaeological works are often known by a name rather than by a title (e.g., Chandelier [Figure 4] or Rolltop Desk [Figure 13]). Such names are sometimes based on classification terms or object types. They may also be modified by phrases that serve to identify and briefly describe the object itself. These names or terms therefore perform the same distinguishing function as a title.

A certain title or name may be accepted or preferred by a work's current owner. This may be its original title, a traditional name, a translation of an original title or name, or a newly assigned descriptive title. When more than one title exists for a work, it is important to indicate the one preferred by the current repository.

Titles can be descriptive, such as Perspective View of the Old Testament Portal from the North Transept, Chartres Cathedral, or figurative, such as After Rain in the Magic Garden. They can refer to religious subjects, such as The Annunciation [Figure 28], or to mythical or literary subjects, such as The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis [Figure 6], or to historical events, such as The Battle of the Little Big Horn. It is also possible, especially in contemporary art, for a work to be called Untitled.

Object names can be used as titles, and may include literary references, such as the Culprit Fay (mirror-frame). [1] They can also include references to their owners, or the places where they were used, such as the Burghley Bowl, [2] the Leinster Service, [3] or the Lansdowne Herakles [Figure 5]. Object names can simply be descriptions, such as Lidded bowl on stand [Figure 1].

Any title inscribed on the object is important for identification, e.g., Cabinet des Beaux Arts [Figure 34].

If the work is part of a series that is identified by title, this series title should also be recorded, e.g., Le Cheval Rayé from series Les Anciennes Indes [Figure 25]. The series could also be noted in RELATED WORKS.

Some works, such as manuscripts, may be known by an appellation based on a particular numbering system, such as Harley 609.

Titles or names given to works of art may have a particular meaning for the artist; therefore, the choice of wording, language, punctuation, and idiom should be respected when an "artist's title" is known.


Names and titles are used to identify a particular work of art. However, as many works can have the same title, such as Madonna and Child, titles must be combined with other categories of information, including CURRENT LOCATION and CREATION.

A significant change in a work's title or name can often indicate an art-historical discovery. For example, when the subject of a drawing was correctly identified, its title changed from Study for a female figure holding a sword to Study for Fame Revealing Cardinal Richelieu. [4]

In some cases, the title assigned to a work by the artist provides essential insight into the meaning of the work.


This is a PRIMARY ACCESS POINT. Searching on the title or name of a work is a common way to retrieve it. As different works often have the same title, searches will be qualified by information from other categories.

Researchers may also want to use the title of a group of works or a series title, such as Marcel Duchamp's Prière de Toucher, to assemble all the single works that were once part of this collective work.

As works are known by many names, and it is not always possible for the art historian to know which one is currently in favor, it should be possible to search all titles assigned to a work at the same time.


The specific type of work of art given a title or name here is recorded in OBJECT/WORK. Its parts should be listed in OBJECT/WORK - COMPONENTS. Classification terms in the title may also be recorded in CLASSIFICATION.

Inscribed titles should be transcribed with other inscriptions in the INSCRIPTIONS/MARKS category.

The subject of the work whose title is given here is recorded in SUBJECT MATTER.

Titles or Names -Type


The kind of title or name assigned to a work of art.


brand name


Since a work of art can have many different titles or names, each should be identified and characterized by its type. It is particularly important to record the repository title, a descriptive title, and any inscribed title or the artist's title.

Uncertainty must be accommodated; the title type may not be immediately apparent.

It is possible for a work to have two titles of the same type; each title should be recorded in its own occurrence of this category. It is also possible for a single title to be of more than one type (repository, descriptive, and artist's); all types that apply should be indicated.

Titles or Names - Date


The date on which a particular title was assigned to the work of art, or a range of dates during which a title was known to be valid.


late 17th century
until 1986


Since titles may change over time, it is important to know when a particular title was in use.


The date for titles or names can be used to identify the work in documents from the time the title was current or to understand how it was interpreted at a particular time.


Dates can be recorded in two ways: as text (illustrated in the above examples), and in the form of two integers indicating the beginning of the date span and the end of the date span (dates BCE can be stored as negative values). Rigidly controlled format is required to allow retrieval. The use of date guidelines is recommended, such the AAT Date Guidelines or ISO 8601: Dates & Times.

Titles or Names - Remarks


Any notes or comments about the title or name assigned to the work of art. This subcategory may include a summary of the source or a justification of the title or name chosen.

Titles or Names - Citations


A reference to a bibliographic source, unpublished document, or opinion that provides the basis for the title or name assigned to the object.



1 Doreen Bolger Burke et al., In Pursuit of Beauty: Americans and the Aesthetic Movement (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art and Rizzoli, 1986), ill. 9.15, 311.

2 Gervase Jackson-Stops, ed., Treasure Houses of Britain: Five Hundred Years of Private Patronage and Art Collecting (Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), cat. no. 415.

3 Ibid, cat. no. 379.

4 National Gallery of Canada, acc. no. 6318.