Writing a novel.

Are the names of statues italicized in a books?

  • 1
    What has your research told you? Jan 9, 2019 at 23:23
  • I've found that the names of sculptures, for example, Cloud Gate in Chicago, is italicized. But, what about statues, say for MLK in a park?
    – user237736
    Jan 9, 2019 at 23:31
  • This is largely a matter of style. Adhere to the discipline of your editor, publication, or organization, or in the absence of a house style, adopt a style manual appropriate to your audience and tastes and be consistent in its application.
    – choster
    Jan 9, 2019 at 23:43
  • 2
    Quickly, however, if the style calls for italicizing names of works of art, whether to italicize would depend on whether you are referring to the statue by name or description. Thus, "Michaelangelo's David" but "Michaelangelo's sculpture of David"; "Livy's History of Rome" to use the common title, but "Livy's history of Rome" if you're calling it Ab Urbe Condita.
    – choster
    Jan 9, 2019 at 23:47
  • 1
    The name of the Statue of Liberty is Liberty Enlightening the World
    – GEdgar
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


Style guides seem to be all over the place on this question. For example, The Oxford Guide to Style (2002), at section 6.3, comes out four-square for italics:

Use italics for the titles of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art:

[Relevant example:] Louise Nevelson, An American Tribute to the British People (Gold Wall)

But The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (2010) has this rather more granular treatment of the question:

8.193 Paintings, statues, and such. Titles of paintings, drawings, photographs, statues, and other works of art are italicized, whether the titles are original, added, by someone other thn the artist, or translated. The names of works of antiquity (whose creators are often unknown) are usually set in roman.

[Relevant examples:] Michelangelo's David[;] the Winged Victory[;] the Venus de Milo

And The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999) advocates for quotation marks—mostly:

sculptures. Capitalize the principal words in their names. And use quotation marks, except for generic titles like Pietà.

Given newspapers' longstanding hostility to using italics under any circumstances, I gather that this style manual italicizes Pietà in the second sentence not because it advocates italicizing generic title but because it is referring to the title as a "word used as word"; in short, AP seems to be arguing in favor of quotation marks for unique names (say, Rodin's "The Thinker"), but regular roman without quotation marks for common titles (say, the Aphrodite of Knidos).

In any event, whatever title style you favor for statues, you can probably find a style guide to support you.

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