Signatures, Monograms, and Markings

Researching Your Art

Media - 1991.56.41 - SAAM-1991.56.41_1 - 50257

Getting Started

If you have only a signature or initials and cannot identify the artist, consult an artist signature or monogram dictionary.

  • Castagno, John, ed. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1989 (Vols.1-3). Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990–2009.
  • Castagno, John, ed. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms 1800 to the Present. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
  • Castagno, John, ed. European Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800-1990. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
  • Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Dictionary of Signatures and Monograms of American Artists. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1988.
  • Jackson, Radway, ed. The Visual Index of Artists’ Signatures and Monograms. London: Cromwell Editions, 1991.

Foundry and Material Supplier Dictionaries

Be aware that not all names found on an object belong to the artist. For example, previous owners may have written their names on the back of an object. Often, for cast or fabricated sculptures, the foundry or fabricator’s name or monogram appears on the base of the sculpture or in another inconspicuous place. Sometimes the material supplier’s name can appear on a work or an attached label. Foundry and material supplier dictionaries can help you identify these marks and establish where your artist might have been active.

  • Berman, Harold. Bronzes: Sculptors & Founders: 1800–1930. Chicago: Abage Publications, 1974–ca. 1981.
  • Edge, Michael S. Directory of Art Bronze Foundries. Springfield, Ore.: Artesia Press, 1990.
  • Forrest, Michael.  Art Bronzes. West Chester, Pa.: Schiffer, 1988.
  • Katlan, Alexander W.  American Artists’ Materials Suppliers Directory Nineteenth Century: New York 1810–1899; Boston 1823–1877. Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Press, 1987.
  • Katlan, Alexander W.  American Artist’s Materials: A Guide to Stretchers, Panels, Millboards, and Stencil Marks. Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press, 1992.
  • Shapiro, Michael Edward. Bronze Casting & American Sculpture: 1852–1900. Newark, Del.: Univ. of Delaware Press, 1985.