Automatic linguistic indexing of pictures is an important but highly challenging problem for researchers in computer vision and content-based image retrieval. In this paper, we introduce a statistical modeling approach to this problem. Categorized images are used to train a dictionary of hundreds of statistical models each representing a concept. Images of any given concept are regarded as instances of a stochastic process that characterizes the concept. To measure the extent of association between an image and the textual description of a concept, the likelihood of the occurrence of the image based on the characterizing stochastic process is computed. A high likelihood indicates a strong association. In our experimental implementation, we focus on a particular group of stochastic processes, that is, the two-dimensional multiresolution hidden Markov models (2D MHMMs). We implemented and tested our ALIP (Automatic Linguistic Indexing of Pictures) system on a photographic image database of 600 different concepts, each with about 40 training images. The system is evaluated quantitatively using more than 4,600 images outside the training database and compared with a random annotation scheme. Experiments have demonstrated the good accuracy of the system and its high potential in linguistic indexing of photographic images.