In Isaac Bashevis Singer's Satan in Goray, this is mentioned in the descriptions of Levi, Rabbi Benish's son, and Nechele, Levi's wife:

Nechele never ceased complaining of how she had fallen into a vulgar house; her thin lips mumbled constantly, and her nose crinkled as though she suffered from the nasty Goray smells. She decorated lavishly the room given to her and her husband. The walls were hung with various canvasses: representations of The Sacrifice of Isaac, Moses Holding the Tables of the Law, The High Priest Aaron in Breast-Plate and Vest. The bed was strewn with small pillows.
Satan in Goray, chapter 2: "Rabbi Benish and His Household" (translated by Jacob Sloan)

Why are these scenes mentioned in italics and title case? They're "representations of" these scenes, so it's not like the text is saying that these are the titles of the paintings; just what's contained in them.

  • I think you've answered your own question here: the paintings have titles and also represent the scenes described by the titles. Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 21:23
  • 1
    It's common to title a painting (or other work of art) after its subject matter. There are a lot of paintings called The Sacrifice of Isaac, for example. (Caravaggio, Piazzetta, Titian, Del Sarto, Tiepolo...) It's ambiguous from the excerpt whether the paintings are original works on a standard theme or copies of better-known works, but it's not unusual to name Biblical stories and title artworks after them, so even if the works' titles were unknown it would be possible to guess.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


The names given are not the descriptions of the scenes, but the titles of the representations. As such, they are italicized.

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