In this excerpt, is the second sentence grammatically correct?

The painting, Woman In Red Hat, was inspired by her son's art selections while on a trip to Vancouver together. Which particular artwork it was an interpretation of, however, is lost to memory.

(Woman In Red Hat was introduced earlier as an artwork with that title. The entire subject of the article is about the artist who made the painting, so 'her' is pretty well understood. Sorry for not making the context clear.)

My critics are ok with the ambiguity of who was on the Vancouver trip, but have some qualms about a 'dangling participle' in the next sentence that I do not see.

I changed it to the following. I like the first version, though.

Woman In A Red Hat was inspired by her son's art selections while on a trip to Vancouver together, though which particular artwork it was an interpretation of is lost to memory.

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    Who's her? And is Woman In Red Hat a title or a person? If it's a title, it should be in quotes, and if it's a person, an article (a or the) is required. Who was on a trip to Vancouver, together with whom? No referents in the sentence at all, except Vancouver, and already there's possibly a ménage à trois under consideration by the puzzled reader. – John Lawler Jul 21 '14 at 23:28
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    Ah. Well, there's no participle in the second sentence; remove the however and you get Which particular artwork it was an interpretation of is lost to memory, which is an awkward sentence with an overly heavy subject, but grammatical. The Which .. is clause is what's called an embedded question complement clause, and it's the subject of is lost to memory. Embedded questions (or headless relatives, or free relatives, as they're sometimes called) are complex constructions and work better at the end of a sentence. But it's grammatical, all right. – John Lawler Jul 22 '14 at 2:02
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    @JohnLawler, thank you for your tolerance of my clumsy question. I can see more ways to make it less awkward now. But at least it does not have the dread 'dangling participle'. Probably my critic's way of saying 'something is wrong here and I don't know quite what.' – Bobbi Bennett Jul 22 '14 at 2:20
  • Yes, nobody ever learns grammar in grammar school; they're taught a catechism of shibboleths instead. Thou Shalt Nots. And no idea why, or how to tell one kind from another, and no definitions to speak of. It's not your fault; your teachers weren't taught grammar either. This has been going on in Anglophone schools since about 1950 or so. That's about 6 generations of students and teachers, so it's gone now for good. – John Lawler Jul 22 '14 at 2:31
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    The only thing I find confusing or in any way ungrammatical in the original version is “together”. Logically, it’s clear that the meaning is that the artist was in Vancouver with her son; but grammatically, I can’t figure out exactly what it most likely really says. Probably that she was in Vancouver with her son’s art selections. Or that the art selections were in Vancouver together. Or something. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 22 '14 at 9:30

I really struggle to find a dangling participle in that sentence. There is lost, but for me it doesn't dangle much...

However, they may be referring to the quite long distance between which [...] artwork and of. There are reasons (for readability) to move those two a bit closer together, for instance:

Of which particular artwork it was an interpretation, however, is lost to memory.

The interjection of however, although I personally like it, can be confusing to some as well. You'll hear things like "no comma's between subject and verb", which are generally correct but overused when interjections come into play. To mollify those concerns, you could rewrite your sentence to:

However, of which particular artwork it was an interpretation is lost to memory.


It is lost to memory, however, of which particular artwork it was an interpretation.

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To avoid saying that her son's art collections were on a trip, make it: ". . . while she was on a trip with him to Vancouver."

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I agree, techically the second sentence does not dangle, although it sounds awkward to me for the reasons others have given. And I like best oerkelens' first suggestion to improve it. Another suggestion to clear up the first sentence:

While on a trip to Vancouver with her son, his art selections inspired her painting "Woman In Red Hat."

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