In this correspondence, a new approach to retrieving image from a color image database is proposed. Each image in the database is represented by a two-dimensional pseudo-hidden Markov model (2-D PHMM), which characterizes the chromatic and spatial information about the image. In addition, a flexible pictorial querying method is used by which users can paint the rough content of the desired images in a query picture. Image matching is achieved by comparing the query picture with each 2-D PHMM in the database. Experimental results show that the proposed approach is indeed effective.