How to Identify a Signature


John Howard SignatureIdentifying an artists signature can be a fun and challenging project. With so many artists around doing wonderful and interesting work,  collecting and organizing their signatures is a lifelong project that will never by completed.

Our area of interest is 20th century illustrators from

On this site, we have organized our artist information by first name, last name and monograms. Lots of times, there is only one name, hard to tell if it was meant to be a first or last name. So, be sure to search under for first and last name initial.

Many artists used a symbol or monogram (also called a monograph, chop, caricature, seal or sign). These can be especially frustrating, look under the monogram category and be persistent.

When looking at a signature, here are some first steps to finding out who the artist is.

Gruau signatureIf the signature is on a book or magazine cover, frequently these will have more information about the artist on the table of contents or contributor page. Be sure to look carefully here. This is an easy and quick way to make a positive artist ID.

For advertising and editorial art, the artist name will frequently be in small print below the art, or around the margin of the page.

On framed artwork, sometimes the artist info will be pasted on the back of the work, sometimes under the protective backing paper.

Another good source is to visit eBay. They set the market these days in popular and commercial art.

Good luck in your search, and remember that the chase is half the fun.

11 responses to “How to Identify a Signature”

  1. Melissa Queen

    I recieved a painting for a housewarming gift of a barn amd apple tree with apples on the ground and a mailbox setting. It is signed with what appears to be a drawm door with windows and thee following. The painting is dated and numbered but I can’t find any info about the artist. Do you know anything about him or her?

  2. Mike Barnes

    I saw a painting at a home with the initials CT the T was inset over the C. Both letters were upper case. Can you tell me more about the artist?

  3. nancy updike

    I have a signed and numbered piece but make out the artist’s signature. Can I send you a picture of the piece and a close up pictue of the signature for identifiaction?

  4. Pat Adducci

    I have a oil painting with the same signature. Its of Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford. They have never appeared in a movie together but were great friends. She was married to Douglas Fairbanks and were neighbors. They did lots of partying. I have no idea why the picture was done, Any info about it would be appreciated. P.A.

  5. marie moynihan

    I recently found my aunt’s work at a thrift shop. when i opened the back there were several other portrait sketches by other artists. just wondering how to identify them. they are all dated between 1955-1960. one artist looks like a larry or zachary, cant quite tell the other looks like a single capital cursive P. any help

  6. Jim Pinkston

    I’m another who is in need of assistance with a signature/Monogram. Can I send pic to you for assistance?



  7. Carol Lambert

    Have miniature oil painting of thatched roof cottage by stream but frame obscures the signature, what can I do?

  8. lynn

    Awesome website! It would be pretty cool to be able to post photographs of artist signatures on here so that if someone happens to recognize it, or maybe even has the same signature on one of their paintings, they can weigh in! :0)

  9. Paul Cole

    I have a piece of art that I am trying to identify. The scene is a winter landscape with a small hamlet in the middle and people leaving a church and walking along a cleared pathway. The signature is in the bottom right hand corner but is a little hard to read. I have tried searching some of the online databases but with no joy. The artists name appears to start with twp horizontal lines (like an F without the vertical line) then maybe a ‘q’ or ‘y’ , then a ‘u’ or ‘i’, then possibly an ‘s’, then possibly ‘iqu’ or ‘igu’, followed by the surname that is almost certainly ‘Rabin’. Any clues to the identity would be much appreciated.

Know more about this artist? Let us know with a comment.