Frederick Ferdinand Schafer Painting Catalog
Mechanics: Title components of a painting description
Title: This catalog distinguishes original titles (that is, titles thought to have been provided by the artist) from assigned titles by placing assigned titles and words added later to titles in square brackets. The catalog also notes under Identification the source of any title that did not come directly from a Verso Inscription. Thus, of the forty-odd paintings with variations on the title "Mount Shasta", Mount Shasta, California  was titled by the artist but numbered by this author, while [Mount Shasta 2] was titled by an unknown source with the number added by this author.
There are four sources of original titles. About half of the known paintings have verso titles inscribed in what appears to be Schafer's own hand. A few paintings have a verso title inscribed in another hand that appears to be contemporary with the artist, perhaps by a dealer or auctioneer. The third, somewhat less authoritative, source is exhibition listings, sale catalogs, and newspaper clippings that are contemporary with the artist. If a painting can be identified with such a source, the title given there appears without brackets. Finally, a few paintings whose reported titles specifically identify obscure locations are assumed to have been provided by the artist even though there is no other evidence to support this assumption.
Most assigned titles have come from dealers and collectors; this author has assigned titles to a few paintings for which no title was reported, or the reported title was clearly inappropriate. Since dealers and collectors often do not report (surprisingly often they do not discover) verso inscriptions, some of the brackets are probably not necessary, and other paintings are probably mistitled. When a verso inscription of a title is reported with the words "said to be" or is not quoted, the title should be considered provisional; verso inscriptions of Schafer's paintings, when inspected, often turn out to vary somewhat from previous reports. Titles of uninspected paintings frequently change--sometimes significantly--when the painting is personally inspected. The Description entry for most paintings ends with a note that indicates whether or not the original painting was examined.
To facilitate comparison, indexing, and searching, titles of paintings appear with a uniform literary capitalization, rather than the capitalization used by the artist in inscriptions or the reporter of the title. Similarly, abbreviations (for example, Mt., Mts., C.P.R.R., B.C., Cal., Cala., Calif., and ev.) are spelled out where they appear in painting titles.
Alternate title: When more than one title has been reported for a painting, the catalog adopts as the official Title the one assigned by the artist, and lists all other titles as alternates--even when the artist appears to have mistitled the painting and one of the alternate titles would be a more accurate description of the subject matter.
When there are multiple titles, none of which is original, some judgement is involved in choosing which assigned title to adopt. Generally, the catalog adopts the most widely used title, unless that title misidentifies the subject. All remaining titles it relegates to alternate status.
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|Apr 26, 2008, 13:36 MDT||Comments, corrections, or questions: Saltzer@mit.edu|