Monday, August 25, 2008


Sometimes I go into a home and look at a painting only to find I can not read the signature. Other times, the signature is no more than a symbol or initials. In those cases (which are pretty common, quite frankly) I turn to the signature books. In the case of sculpture, the foundry name is often found on the base. In the case of both paintings and sculpture, the name of the company that supplied the materials (such as the canvas, paper etc.) might be located somewhere on the piece. Other names that might be on the piece include the owner's name or a gallery's name.
Always be aware that if an artist signature is on the piece it doesn't make it authentic. Find out as much as you can about the way the artist signed his/her pieces but also look at the piece and see if it "looks right." If there is a catalogue raisonne (a book of every known piece by the artist) get a copy of it and look up your piece. In other words, although the signature is important, it is not the final word when it comes to researching the maker of your artworks.


Castagno, John, ed. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1989. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Castagno, John, ed. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms 1800 to the Present. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Dictionary of Signatures and Monograms of American Artists. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1988.
Jackson, Radway, ed. The Visual Index of Artists' Signatures and Monograms. London: Cromwell Editions, 1991.

Edge, Michael S. Directory of Art Bronze Foundries. Springfield, Ore.: Artesia Press, 1990.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artists' Materials Suppliers Directory Nineteenth Century: New York 1810–1899; Boston 1823–1877. Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Press, 1987.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artist's Materials: A Guide to Stretchers, Panels, Millboards, and Stencil Marks. Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press, 1992.

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