To research and identify an artist's initials on a painting, search for the letters of the signature on a database such as ArtSignatureDictionary.com, SignatureFinder.com or IdentifyArtistSignatures.com. Getty.edu also offers a selection of print book titles that may aid in identifying a signature.
When the user types initials into a search bar on Signature Finder, the sites displays artists whose names contain those letters Even if only a few letters of the name are legible, the signature may still be identified using this database. For example, typing in the letters "J.H." returns results including J.H. Sharpe, J. Heinz Mindermann and J.Henry Smith. Clicking the Google Images button beside each name displays images, generally works of art, that have been tagged with the name. If the artworks look similar to the one that carries the signature in question, it may be a positive match.
Depending on how prolific an artist is, the artist's signature and initials may evolve and change over time. Other information such as the title, year and provenance of an artwork may help in identifying the artist. If the art appears similar to the style of a known artist, enter the artist's name into Art Signature Dictionary and compare the signature with the provided examples. Some artists initial their paintings with an illustrative monogram. Identify Artist Signatures offers a small collection of well-known artist's monograms.