Is this sentence correct?

The portrait utilizes a palette of grays, blacks and blues.

Doesn’t it sound like the portrait painted itself? Shouldn’t it be «The artist utilized a palette of grays, blacks and blues.»

Thank you!

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    Consider also "This pen/book writes/reads well." The pen isn't writing, and the book isn't reading; the pen is being written with, and the book read (by someone). – niamulbengali Dec 28 '20 at 18:38

Your sentence is correct. It is a figure of speech called personification which is commonly used. Look at this example:

The picture utilizes a pyramidal arrangement common of High Renaissance artists, although Leonardo's perfection of anatomical movement and fluidity elevates the figures with a sense of realistic motion.

However, the expression itself is rarely used, as Gngram finds no instances of it in written texts.

Note: It can be utilizes (AmE) or utilises (BrE).

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  • @LPH: very interesting link! Thank you. However, "utilizes" looks very active here. – fev Dec 28 '20 at 19:46
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    It is not the portrait that is "utilized" in fact, you see. It is just used as a subject "instead of" the artist that painted it. – fev Dec 28 '20 at 19:58
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    "Note: It can be utilizes (AmE) or utilises (BrE)." Or "uses". – Acccumulation Dec 29 '20 at 4:08
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    @Acccumulation: Yes, correct. I did not want to change the particular context given by the OP. And as LPH indicated, BrE accepts both "utilize" and "utilise" (in fact the variant with "z" prevails). – fev Dec 29 '20 at 4:14

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