How to identify a painting's signature

Written by david shaw
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How to identify a painting's signature
Some signatures are illegible and require expert knowledge to decipher the name. (Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

All original artwork contains a signature or symbol that represents the artist who created the painting. Artists may use their actual signatures or they may use what is called a monogram. A monogram is a symbol an artist adopts as a signature. Signatures or monograms can be found at the bottom margin of the painting or on the back of the canvas. In the case of a monogram, you can use an artist monogram database to match the monogram to the artist.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Check around the margin or on the back of the painting to locate the artist's signature or monogram.

  2. 2

    Notice the type of painting. Many artists excel in a certain genre of painting such as landscape, still life or portrait. Search an artist database for popular artists under the categories of paintings they paint.

  3. 3

    Search for the artist's monogram using the reverse-lookup process. Search through a database of matching monograms and artist names. Match the artist with his or her monogram to identify the artist of the painting.

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