The importance of the artist’s signature.

When enjoying a painting of your favorite artists, have you noticed their signature? In most cases it’s the last thing the painter places on the canvas, sometimes after several years of work.  

Unlike others who signed artworks with their surname, Vincent van Gogh signed his simply “Vincent”. After leaving his birthplace of the Netherlands for work in England and France, he realized that pronouncing his family name was difficult for foreigners. However, some believe that the Dutch master Rembrandt whom he admired might have influenced him.

Another interesting fact is that Van Gogh often signed his paintings in usual places, not just in the lower corners of the canvas. Also, his signatures appear in different colors!

Let’s see how many of them you could spot.

Who initiated signing a painting?

Artist signatures first became prominent during the early Renaissance (1401 – 1490 CE). It did not only signify a competed work, but also indicated the period, place, and medium, useful for art specialists who authenticate a piece of art. For example, Pablo Picasso signed his works in his “Blue Period” with PR: ‘P’ for Picasso and ‘R’ for Ruiz, his middle name. Later, he stopped using the initials and developed a new signature, ‘Pablo Picasso’ for artwork created in his ‘cubist’ period, his signature easily distinguishable from the geometric forms in the painting.

While an artist signature can significantly increase the commercial value of an artwork, it is possible to identify an artist’s works without the name inscription. 


Discover Van Gogh’s signatures hidden in whirlpooling strokes and colors digitally presented in Van Gogh. Life and Art multimedia exhibition, which runs from 4 June until 31 December at MODA Gallery. Grab some early bird tickets with special prices on