10 Most Famous Artist Signatures in History

famous artist signatures

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Tired of looking at chicken scrawl and want to learn how a real artist signs his paintings?

Although it doesn’t seem all that necessary to improve one’s signature in the face of learning drawing and painting skills, having an awkward or ugly signature may indeed distract from the art that you want to create.

Whether it’s for the purpose of learning how to sign paintings or studying artist signatures in general, the list below will tell you everything you need to know:

10 Most Famous Artist Signatures

1. Pablo Picasso’s Signature

pablo picasso’s signature
Pablo Picasso’s Signature

Pablo Picasso has one of the most recognizable artist signatures in the art world. Primarily because he has so many versions of them! If you look up ‘Pablo Picasso’s Signature’ or study some of his artworks, you’ll find that it varies a lot.

He had very strange practices when it came to signing his works. According to historical records, he refused to sign them until they were being sold, and there were even times when he refused to sign them after being sold because they were painted too long ago.

This has led to many of his artworks lacking his artist signature. And, perhaps, his aversion to using signatures altogether explains why they are so varied (examples can be seen towards the end of the article) — in the early days, he even preferred to leave his artist signatures at the rear of the canvas!

2. Leonardo da Vinci’s Signature

leonardo da vinci's signature
Leonardo da Vinci’s Signature

Just like Pablo Picasso, the famous artist behind the ‘Mona Lisa’, Leonardo da Vinci, had very strange practices when it came to signing his paintings.

Most of his paintings were never signed because he felt that there was no need to prove his identity to the private patrons who purchased them. He also refused to sign incomplete paintings, so some of his artwork was purposefully left not signed.

In the few occasions in his life when he did sign his artwork, he preferred to use his initials. That is, the letters, “L.V” or “L.V.D”. Even rarer are his works with variations to his first name, “Leonardus” or his full name “Leonardo di ser Piero.”

3. Frida Kahlo Artist Signature

frida kahlo artist signature
Frida Kahlo Artist Signature

Although Frida Kahlo’s signature may not look as bold or as unusual as some artists, the simplicity in the handwriting and pen pressure is very comfortable to look at.

Of course, the cursive signature shown in detail in the image above cannot be said to be a representative of Frida Kahlo’s artistic signature. Just like many artists in history, she is not very consistent when it comes to signing. Her dedication is much better than Picasso’s though. Many of her signed works are either the same as above or shortened and capitalized as “F. KAHLO”.

4. Salvador Dali Artist Signature

salvador dali artist signature
Salvador Dali Artist Signature

If you’re interested in personalizing your own signature to match your identity, you can refer to Salvador Dali’s artist signature!

As a bold and free person, Dali’s handwriting naturally reveals the same sense of wildness. The letters “S” and “D” have stronger pen pressure, with the semi-cursive style creating a sense of playfulness that is very appropriate for Dali’s eccentric personality.

This is not to mention the signatures that he uses for other purposes. His artist signature for his works can be said to be more downplayed than his legal signature — which may include small crown sketches and is shortened to his last name “Dali.”

5. Vincent van Gogh Signature

vincent van gogh artist signature
Vincent van Gogh Artist Signature

Vincent Van Gogh is an artist with a surprisingly consistent signature. They’re also relatively simple, more emphasis and pen pressure is applied to the first letter, “V”, and in most cases, he skips his last name altogether.

You can also discover artist signatures from Vincent van Gogh with an underline beneath the first name to separate it from the year that the painting was finished.

6. Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn Signature

rembrandt artist signature
Rembrandt Artist Signature

If we’re talking about artists with unique features in their signatures, Rembrandt is definitely one to consider. The most prominent in his signature are the letters “R” and the small “f” at the end.

This “f” is not a part of his name, but a symbol to point out that he was the one that created this painting. You might find the “f”, which stands for “he made”, to be followed by a date, which basically means that he created this painting in a certain year.

This little detail is easy to miss if you don’t know about it. After all, it’s a practice that is not used in modern times — most artists probably have never even heard of it unless they’re a fan of Rembrandt and just so happened to be curious as to why there’s an extra letter in his signature!

7. Johannes Vermeer

johannes vermeer
Johannes Vermeer “I.V. Meer” Artist Signature

Another artist in history whose signature reveals their creative personality is Johannes Vermeer. The letters “I” and “V” that make up the initials “I” (for Johannes) and “V” (for Ver-) are melted with the big letter “M” to create a simple but creative short artist signature.

There are also other version of the same signature where the “I” for Johannes is separated from the “V.Meer” with a dot. As well as a version where the dot for the “i” is placed on top of the “M” for “Meer” and the “V” is placed on the bottom.

Such small details are easy to ignore if you don’t examine Vermeer’s paintings closely. It might even make you confused and think that there must be a mistake or typo somewhere. But it’s also true that this unique way of signing his work is one to look back on. After all, Vermeer signed very few works throughout his life, and the art world doesn’t have many references to examine.

8. Gustav Klimt Artist Signature

gustav klimt
Gustav Klimt Artist Signature

If you’re looking for artists in history with relatively simpler signatures, then Gustav Klimt is one example. Analysis of his art will show that he is a very creative person, and his generosity is shown in the unique elements in the paintings “The Kiss” and the “Portrait of Adele Bloch.”

If you compare his paintings with the font of the signature shown above, the difference may shock you! After all, it seems to be written very casually. With the light marks neither neat nor stable. There’s also an obvious slant to his handwriting that makes it look like it was written without much care.

But this just goes to show that your signature doesn’t necessarily have to be overly complicated or ornate. Your art is the star of the show, and the letters of your name are just an accompaniment that reveals your participation in its journey.

9. Claude Monet’s Art Signature

claude monet
Claude Monet’s Art Signature

Other artists that use their own handwriting for their artist signature include the popular impressionist, Claude Monet.

Most of his works in recorded history are signed in this simple, light font with a slight right slant. If you examine his art more closely, however, you may have further insights. For example, when signing, the “M” and “T” letters in “Monet” are usually more prominent than the “c” in “Claude” — which you might notice is often in lowercase.

10. Jackson Pollock’s Art Signature

jackson pollock
Jackson Pollock Artist Signature

Another honest mimicry of handwriting and art style is Jackson Pollock’s bold and expressive signature. His artist signature adopted the same wild and energetic way he works on his abstract, gestural paintings.

Most of his work is signed with the single word “Pollock”, as is shown in the image above. With others signed directly in his full name, “Jackson Pollock”.

How To Create The Perfect Artist Signature?

At this point, you probably have a good idea as to what counts as a ‘good’ signature. If not, the most important thing to remember is that there are no hard or fast rules when it comes to creating a signature.

If you’re still not feeling confident, continue reading for some tips and tricks:

Tip #1: Degree of Consistency

In general, it’s always best to be at least somewhat consistent when it comes to your signature. After all, nowadays, it’s meant to serve as proof of identity and one of the factors used to authenticate paintings.

degree of consistency
Pablo Picasso’s Signature

Of course, as mentioned previously, many artists in history are not very consistent when it comes to signing their signatures. This can be seen in the image above, which is a compilation of Picasso’s different signatures throughout his career.

So, to be 100% honest, consistency is not completely necessary. At the very least, there’s no need to have only one signature for your entire art career. You can make changes when needed. Just as long as it’s not too often!

Tip #2: Legibility

Legibility is important, but as long as the signature can serve as an indicator of your identity, it is not completely necessary. So, don’t worry about your handwriting ruining the aesthetics of your painting! It’s not that big of a deal.

(Image Source)

Tip #3. Initials or Full Name?

Most artists prefer to use their full name for clarity, whilst others are satisfied with using their initials or their first and last names. There’s no rule in this regard. Just one thing, overly long signatures or those of a bigger size may distract from the painting, so this is something to consider before you make your final decision!

Tip #4. Medium

Your signature is not meant to attract the viewer’s eye, so it’s best to use the same medium that was used for the painting you want signed. Otherwise, it may be too eye-catching!

Tip #5. Placement

The most common placement for signatures is the bottom right-hand corner of a given painting. But you can also place yours in the left-hand corner (which is a common practice for left-handed artists).

Just like with the other tips mentioned thus far, there are no hard rules when it comes to placement. So, theoretically, you can put your signature wherever you want.


It’s just, in order to make it easier for viewers to identify the artist of a given piece of work, most artists have gotten into the habit of placing it at the bottom right-hand corner — which is where most viewers instinctively look for it.

(BONUS) How Can I Identify Artist Signatures?

If you somehow stumbled into this article whilst trying to uncover the identity of the artist of a certain piece of work, then you can try out the following methods:

  • Art Recognizer: Art Recognizer by Google Arts & Culture is an AI tool made by artists and for artists. All you need to do is take a picture of the painting and upload it. The AI will then analyze it according to its existing database. As a bonus, it will also include relevant information about the artwork and the artist.
  • Smartify: This is an art community app that can be used to identify paintings based on an image. It works just like the Art Recognizer, but its database is primarily focused on art in museums. smartify
  • Professional Art Authenticator: If you want more thorough authentication, you can approach a professional art authenticator online or offline (e.g., Art Experts). They have special skills that allow them to authenticate paintings.


Do Artists Use Their Real Signature?

Most artists prefer not to use their “real” (AKA, legal) signature for their art to avoid security risks. It’s recommended that you do the same.

Should My Art Signature Be My Name?

It doesn’t have to be your name. There are no regulations on this. It’s meant to be an ID of a sort, but since it’s not a legal one, as long as your audience base can recognize you through it, it’ll work perfectly fine.

Final Thoughts:

Now that you’ve learned everything there is to know about the art of signing paintings, it’s time to move on to more important things!

Signatures are just a complementary part of the process after all. If you want to take your art skills to the next level, it’s better to sign up for some online art classes next!

Featured Image: Source

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