I'm writing an article about Russian traditional handicrafts, such as Khokhloma, Zhostovo, and Gzhel. I know the names of these styles/techniques do not require any determiner before them when I use them alone (because these are proper names), however, I wonder if I need to put the definite article before them when using these names with the word 'painting.' Is it Khokhloma painting or the Knhokhloma painting, for instance?

P.S.: Khokhloma, Zhostovo, and Gzhel are geographical names (e.g. Gzhel painting comes from the village of Gzhel ).

  • Can you give us a complete sentence? I'm guessing that you do not want an article, but it's very difficult to say without a specific example.
    – stangdon
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 17:34

1 Answer 1


It depends what you're trying to say:

  • "Khokhloma painting" (with no article) would be the name of the technique itself, e.g. "She is a master of Khokhloma painting"
  • "a Khokhloma painting" (indefinite article) would refer to some unspecified example of the technique, e.g. "While I was there I bought a Khokhloma painting"
  • "the Khokhloma painting" (definite article) would refer to a specific example mentioned elsewhere, e.g. "The Khokhloma painting which I bought was beautiful"
  • "the Khokhloma painting" would also be used if there was exactly one such painting in the whole world, rather than a technique, in the same way as the Bayeux Tapestry

There are also two relevant meanings of painting:

  • The concrete noun (used with an article) is used specifically for flat artworks, typically on canvas, paper, or similar material; the kind which you would put in a frame and hang on the wall.
  • The technique (used without an article) can also refer to any decoration with paint - for instance, decorating pots, or houses. In that case, it generally refers to the process, whereas the result might be "paintwork" - so you might say "The Khokhloma paintwork on this pot is very beautiful" (again, using the definite article to refer to a specific example).

Finally, note that the same rules apply to any adjective used in the same way, not just one which comes from a proper name. For instance:

Claude Monet was a master of impressionist painting.
An impressionist painting by Claude Monet was sold recently.
The impressionist painting which was sold fetched a high price.

  • Your examples with the articles only work if the object is "a painting" - that is, a piece of art that is hung on the wall. Khokhloma usually decorates household objects, so you'd be more likely to say "While I was there, I bought a Khokhloma-painted bowl [or whatever the object is]." Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 18:33
  • @CanadianYankee Thanks, I hadn't even thought of that meaning! Having never heard of the places or their styles, I just assumed the countable form of "painting" was relevant, but a pot would as you say not be "a painting". I've added some notes on that distinction.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 19:35

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