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Artists' Signatures Research Guide

How to research and identify artists' signatures, initials, and symbols.

Created 2006
Author: Research Services


The Internet is not the best source for information about artist's signatures or initials. Signature research can be done by checking the following books to match a signature with a name, initials, or symbol. The volumes may be arranged by last name, alphabetically by first initial, or by shape of a symbol. 

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Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire Critique et Documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs de Tous les Temps et de Tous les Pays. 14 vols. Paris: Gründ, 1999. 

Castagno, John. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1989. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990. 

Castagno, John. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms, 1800–Present. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1989. 

Castagno, John. Artists' Monograms and Indiscernible Signatures: An International Directory, 1800–1991. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991. 

Castagno, John. European Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1990, Including Selected Artists from Other Parts of the World. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990. 

Castagno, John. Latin American Artists' Signatures and Monograms: Colonial Era to 1996. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997. 

Castagno, John. Old Masters: Signatures and Monograms, 1400–Born 1800. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996. 

Caplan, H. H. and Bob Creps. Encyclopedia of Artists' Signatures, Symbols & Monograms: Old Masters to Modern, North American & European plus More; 25,000 Examples. Land O'Lakes, FL: Dealer's Choice Books, 1999. 

Falk, Peter Hastings. Dictionary of Signatures & Monograms of American Artists: From the Colonial Period to the Mid 20th Century. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1988. 

Goldstein, Franz. Monogrammlexikon 1: Internationales Verzeichnis der Monogramme bildender Künstler seit 1850 = Dictionary of Monograms 1: International List of Monograms in the Visual Arts since 1850, 2nd ed. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999. 

Pfisterer, Paul, ed. Monogrammlexikon 2: Internationales Verziechnis der Monogramme bildender Künstler des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts = Dictionary of Monograms 2: International List of Monograms in the Visual Arts of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995. 

Pfisterer, Paul. Signaturenlexikon = Dictionary of Signatures. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999. 

Banner: Monogram of Léonard Gaultier (detail), Léonard Gaultier (French, ca. 1561–ca. 1630 or 1641), 1586, engraving. From Jacques Guillemeau, Tables anatomiques, avec les pourtraicts et declaration d'iceulx: Ensemble un denombrement de cinq cens maladies diverses, title page. The Getty Research Institute, 84-B28033