How Do You Identify Artist Signatures on Paintings?

To identify artist signatures on paintings, locate the signature or the monogram on the painting, and note the painting type. Use John Castagno’s signature directories available from Scarecrow Press or as an online database on the Artists’ Signatures website to verify signatures or identify symbols, monograms and illegible signatures. If the artwork is of local origin, contact a local art gallery owner, museum curator or historian.

To locate the signature or monogram of the artist, check the painting’s margins or backside. Sometimes, the name of the artist, the title and the year are printed on the painting’s reverse side. In case of framed artworks, remove the backing to access this information.

John Castagno’s 12 signature directories include a list of monograms, indiscernible signatures and signatures of illustrators, abstract artists and artists from Europe, America and Latin America active from the 1800s till the present times. To purchase these directories, access the Scarecrow Press website, and type Castagno in the search box on the top right corner.

The Artists’ Signatures website is a database containing 55,000 signature examples that correspond to 50,000 artists. To use this site, type in the artist’s name. Filter the search using the options under Featured Categories. Click on the name of the artist from the list, and log in to your account to view the full profile of the artist.

To identify symbols, illegible signatures and monograms on this database, click on Reverse Lookup, and choose the appropriate option from the drop-down menu. View the database examples arranged alphabetically, and match with the one being researched.

On the Artists’ Signatures website, preliminary access is free. A nominal payment is required to access particular signature examples and artists’ names.