Proper left/proper right

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refers to the point of view of the object itself. When describing a work of art, one should refer to the object's right (proper right) or the object's left (proper left).

Charlemagne, by Durer. Charlemagne holds the sword in his proper right hand.

Related Terms[edit | edit source]

Synonyms in English[edit | edit source]

Translation[edit | edit source]

English proper left/proper right
Chinese (Traditional) 主體的左/右 (而非觀者的左/右)

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Much of the discussion surrounding the idea of proper left/proper right has to do with which works of art it should be applied to. Some institutions, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, require the use of proper left/proper right, but only when describing figures (in painting, in sculpture). Other sources suggest that the terms can be applied to any unambiguous work of art. In other words, any work of art that has a identifiable front and back, such as furniture.

References[edit | edit source]

Smithsonian American Art Museum. Inventories for American Painting and Sculpture: Guidelines for Reporting Works.

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