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You have a beautiful painting, but you have no clue as to which artist painted it? Would you like to find the artist by name and discover more of their work? If you want to find a specific painter, there are some clues that can give you an idea about who the artist is. Let’s take a look at how you can proceed in such a situation.
Table of Contents
- 1 Original Painting vs. Print
- 2 The Different Types of Reproductions
- 3 Find Artist of Painting by Signature
- 4 Other Factors to Determine the Value of a Painting
- 5 Detect Forgeries
Original Painting vs. Print
At first glance, you might think you’re looking at an original. More often, however, it is an art print. The difference is not always so easy to see. The following points can help you with the verification:
- Examine the surface of the image with a magnifying glass. If it is an art print, you will see small regular dots or pixels. This allows you to draw a clear conclusion about an art print.
- Does the painting have a signature? If so, this might help you. Sometimes there is also a date noted, which can narrow down the search in time.
- Back of the painting: Is there any information on the back? Is it handwritten, in the form of a sticker, or directly printed? All this can give you further clues. If you find information such as “reproduction”, “edition X” or similar terms, it is most likely a copy. This information can also help you in your search
- There are now also apps that allow you to photograph the artwork. This is then automatically compared with a database and shows you the artist and name of the work if available. Probably the most famous app is called “Magnus” and already has an impressive hit rate.
- Take a photo and post it in an art forum. Maybe somebody knows the artist, which can give you further hints.
Edgar Degas’ signature, hidden in the skirting board (Dancers at the pole, 1876 Edgar Degas [Public domain])
The Different Types of Reproductions
Limited Editions With a Signature
These limited editions are often characterized by very high quality and are signed by the artist. These are the reproductions with the highest value. They are especially interesting for collectors and can fetch a high price at an auction.
You can recognize limited editions by the fact that they are numbered, for example, 10/50 is written on them. So you have the tenth copy of a total of 50 pieces. The lower the edition, the more valuable the few existing pieces.
Prints of Original Paintings
There are a large number of prints of famous original works by well-known artists. These are unsigned and have often been reproduced in large numbers. The value is correspondingly small. However, there is a good chance that you can find out who the painter was with these.
Find Artist of Painting by Signature
How to find an artist of a work you’re unsure of? Finding the painter’s signature is of course the easiest way to determine who the painter is. This also helps to find out the value of the painting or art print in question. Very often, the paintings were signed by artists so that a certain recognition value is given and so that foreign painters could not adorn themselves later with foreign signatures.
Finding the signature is usually not that difficult: Mostly you can find it on the right or left corner of the front of the painting. But sometimes you can also find the signature or initials on the back. So if the painting is in a frame, you have to remove the painting. But be careful not to damage the painting.
Besides the complete signature, there are also initials or so-called monograms. These are the initials, which are artistically written into each other. These are easier to identify than pure initials because they have a higher recognition value.
A monogram of the famous painter Albrecht Dürer (Albrecht Dürer [Public domain])
Finding Artists – Clues to Identify a Painter
To find a painting by artists through their signature, there are some tricks that can be used. Below are some useful tips to help find paintings by artist name.
- Trace the history of the painting: Where did you get it? Did you buy it, is it a family heirloom and can you still find out where it originally came from?
- What is in the painting? Can you identify a style or an art movement? If it is a portrait painting, you may be able to make further conclusions about the time of its creation.
- Can you find labels of galleries, museums, or other information like numbers or indentations?
- If you find a label or information on the painting or frame, it is a good starting point for further investigation: If these institutions still exist, you can ask them if they know who the artist is
- If you find numbers on the painting it could have been auctioned in the past. In this case, you might find more information on the internet and you can ask there. If the painting has already been auctioned once, chances are that it is a work of some value
- If you find a signature, you can do an artist signature search, initials, or monogram using art books.
When you find the artist by name, you can get more information on the internet. For example, there are websites where you can do an artist signature search, and search for paintings that have already been sold. You can then find out how much was paid for them. You can draw further conclusions about the value of your painting through this.
Other Factors to Determine the Value of a Painting
The condition of your painting has a great influence on its value. Often paintings from lesser-known artists can still fetch several hundred dollars – if the frame is of high quality and the general condition is good:
- The colors have not faded
- It is in the original frame
- A signature is available and an assignment is therefore possible
- No chipped paint
- No major cracks in the paint
Demand/Value of the Artist
In the past centuries, there was an unmanageable number of artists. Only a few later became famous and their works are priceless today. Good examples are Picasso or Rembrandt. But many artists are not known and accordingly, their paintings are hardly worth anything. So if the works of an artist are in high demand, the painting will be worth a higher price.
Interesting for Collectors
If you have a painting from a certain art period which is very popular with collectors, this also has an effect on the selling price. In addition to certain designs that are collected, there are of course also certain artists that are very popular with collectors. Here there are always new artists who are suddenly in demand and whose works are collected.
Proof of Authenticity or a Certificate of Authenticity
If you are very lucky, you will have a certificate of authenticity, dedication, or similar confirmation of the authenticity of the painting. But beware: there are many fakes of certificates, especially from well-known artists and painters.
Forgeries are said to exist when an artwork claims to be the original. Art prints or repainted copies are completely transparent in this case, in that a note/reference can be found on the painting that it is not an original. For example, this can be the signature of the painter who copied the work or a note on the back.
However, detecting forgeries is not so easy. For the average person, the copy is often indistinguishable from the original. Especially for very expensive works, an examination of the pigments used is made. Only with this method can very experienced frauds be found out. A corresponding expert opinion is necessary for the sale of more expensive paintings to give the buyer the certainty of having bought an original. The following clues can help you to how to find an artist and identify forgeries:
- Differences in detail: With copies, it often happens that the painter who copied the original painting is sloppy. So small details such as brush strokes or shadows may not be completely identical. It is best to take a photo of the original work and compare it with the supposed copy.
- Indications of age: If you have a supposedly old painting, it usually looks and smells a certain way. Depending on the paint and the canvas, an old painting may also smell a bit old and possibly slightly musty. If it is a current fake, the painting smells more like fresh paint.
- Color: Depending on the pigments and painting media used, the colors will fade. This can be imitated by a skilled fraud, but nevertheless faded colors and cracks in the paint of oil paintings are an indication that it is an original and not a fake.
With these tips, you are now in a good position to determine the original painter and find an artist by name. However, just in case, we recommend that you consult a specialist to rule out forgeries. And who knows, maybe you actually have an invaluable work of art in your possession?