Amanda is a keen artist and art historian with a particular interest in 19th-century art, especially the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.
So you have this old picture, and you're not sure who it's by. The right name could make all the difference at auction, but just how do you find out who painted your item—and were they famous?
If you are reading this article, you may have recently acquired a picture that you want to know more about, or you might have suddenly become curious about a painting that you, or your family, have owned for some time. Whatever the reason, you are now looking for information, and a quick guide to how to find it. With this in mind, I have set out a sequence of steps that you need to take to identify your artist, and to help you understand a little more about your picture. It may well be that you fail to find a definite answer, but don't be discouraged. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are many uniquely wonderful works of art that are created by amateur artists whose names will never feature in an auction catalogue or a museum inventory. If you love your picture, then it's likely that others will too, and a beautiful item will nearly always find a buyer, even if it isn't by a famous artist.
Questions to Ask Before Selling Your Art at Auction
- Is my picture an original, or is it a print?
- My painting has initials for a signature, but how do I find out who the artist is?
- My artwork has an artist signature, but how do I know if the artist's work is valuable?
- My picture has a signature, but could it be a forgery?
Is My Picture an Original, or Is It a Print?
There are probably millions of prints and reproductions of paintings in circulation today, and some of these prints are so good that it is very difficult to identify the copy from an original.
Ways to tell if your painting is an original or a print:
- Examine the surface of your picture: One easy clue is to examine the surface of your picture through a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe. If the surface is comprised of thousands of tiny, uniform dots, then it is definitely a print.
- Labels: The back of your picture might also provide information. Words such as "reproduction," "edition," or the name of a museum, such as "The Museum of Modern Art, New York," or "Musee d'Orsay, Paris" are all definite hints that your item is one of many copies.
- Search Engines: If you have an actual title and an artist written on the label you can also try typing the details into a search engine to see if an image of your picture comes up.
Prints From a Famous Original Painting
Prints from a famous original are unlikely to have a big label price tag. In fact, unless the frame is exceptionally good, most mass-produced reproductions tend to have a relatively low resale value.
Collectible Modern Prints
Some modern prints have become collectible in recent times, and this is usually the result of clever marketing, or very limited edition print runs. A good example of modern prints having clever marketing is the American Hargrove prints, which have a certain folksy charm, and often re-sell for quite surprising amounts considering the quantities that have been produced. A quick search on eBay will give you some idea.
Signed Limited Edition Prints
Signed limited edition prints, where the picture is of high-quality and has been hand-signed by the artist, will often be priced high at auction. A good example of such an artist is the wildlife artist, David Shepherd. You will know if your print is a limited edition because it will be numbered, probably on the front, next to the hand-written signature. It might say 36/100, for example, and this means that it is the 36th print out of an edition of 100. If only 100 prints from an original exist, then it makes sense that these will have a higher value than prints that exist in their thousands!
My Painting Has Initials for a Signature, but How Do I Find Out Who the Artist Is?
Lots of artists, including some really famous ones, sign their paintings with their initials. Sometimes these are stylized into a monogram, but usually, it is just letters and dots. This isn't too big a problem if you have a fabulous work of art done in an instantly recognizable style, but the vast majority of paintings are not so easy to identify. So where to start? This is where some real detective work comes in.
How to find the value of your painting using initials and labels:
- Track the picture back: First of all, you can attempt to track the picture back. If it is a family heirloom you will have some clues as to its origins. When was it bought? Who bought it, and where did it come from? Next, look for clues in the actual painting. What is the subject matter? If it is a landscape, can you identify the scene? If it is a portrait, can you identify the sitter? Are there any gallery labels, or framer's labels on the reverse? Are there numbers written anywhere on the frame?
- Gallery labels and framer's labels: If you see a gallery label or a framer's label, then you immediately have a potential source of information. If the gallery or framer is still in business, contact them, and ask if they can identify the artist. If you have numbers chalked on the frame, it is likely that the picture has been through auction at some point, and if there is an auction house mark or label on the frame, you have another place to check. Auction marks are generally a very good indication that the picture has some value.
- Look at a dictionary of artists signatures and monograms: Of course, this won't be a problem if your artist has unusual initials such as Z.Z., but you're probably not going to be that lucky! If you have several paintings to research, or if you often have old paintings through your hands, you might consider actually buying a reference book for yourself, as they are frequently more helpful than the online versions currently available. There are a number of these published, and sometimes local libraries carry a copy in their reference section. However, if you prefer to research using your computer, online resources are available.
My Artwork Has an Artist Signature, but How Do I Know If the Artist's Work is Valuable?
A clear signature is extremely helpful when it comes to picture research. If your artist is fairly well known you may be able to find him or her simply by keying the name into your search engine followed by the word 'painting'. This will be very straightforward if you are lucky enough to own a Renoir, a Remington or a Rembrandt, however, there are lots of lesser-known artists who have their own pages in Wikipedia, or even have their own websites.
If this simple approach draws a blank, then consider using online artist listings. These will not give you vast amounts of information, but if your artist appears on these lists you can be sure that their work has either been sold at auction, or is part of a gallery, or dealer's inventory. The websites I've listed at the foot of this article all have access to prices achieved at auction, and that is exactly what you need to know in order to get a rough valuation of your painting. Unfortunately, most of these websites charge you for the information. It's up to you to decide whether you want to pay for a 24-hour membership, or whether you want to investigate the no-charge websites first. The free auction price listings on the findartinfo.com website are a very useful first port of call, and if you then access the results pages on liveauctioneers.com which include images, you will be able to gain an enormous amount of information without having to pay for it.
My Picture Has a Signature, but Could It Be a Forgery?
There are many, many high-quality art forgeries in circulation, as well as innumerable copies of famous works. The difference between a copy and a forgery is that the copy is not pretending to be the real deal. A forgery only becomes a forgery when there is an attempt to deceive. There are many good copies around that do not have the finish and presentation of the original artworks, nor, most importantly, are they signed as though they were by the original artist. Often a copyist will sign with his or her own name. Some copyists make a living out of unashamedly reproducing great works of art on a commission basis.
Things to remember when trying to decide if your picture is a forgery:
- Age: Many forgeries can be hundreds of years old. Yes, folks, forgery is not a new idea!
- Provenance: Potential buyers will require some kind of provenance. Its ownership can be traced back. Lesser valued items, however, are more likely to be taken at face value.
- Brush strokes and colour: Look at the quality of the brush strokes, and the colour of the paint. Does it appear to be far more recent than the artist's dates would indicate? If the artist is supposed to have died more than 50 years ago, it is unlikely that the painting will smell of fresh oil paint, and be completely free of damage or any kind of discolouration.
Forgeries can be very hard to spot, and it takes an expert on a given artist to give a definitive answer. If you do have a painting that you believe to be a very high-value item, it is worth having it authenticated. Ideally, this can be done before you enter the painting for auction, but high-end auctioneers have a lot of contacts, and may well be able to steer you in the right direction.
How Do I Sell My Art?
The vast majority of paintings have relatively low resale values. Many are by amateur artists whose output has been so low that no one has paid attention to them. These artists might be fantastically skilled and turn out paintings of exceptional quality, but there will always be a ceiling on their value, which is a great pity. Other pictures, however, might be relatively unattractive, yet they will attract buyers just because they were painted by a "listed" artist. Whenever you are buying art, choose work that you love, and can easily live with. Some art is regarded as an investment but, personally, I'd just as soon enjoy what's hanging on my walls!
Here are a few ways to sell your painting:
- Auction House: This is an ideal way to market an old painting or a painting by a well-known artist. Search the internet for antiques and collectibles auction houses in your area, then contact them to find out whether they specialise in art. Most auction houses will give you a rough estimate of what the item is likely to sell for. Good auctioneers will also ensure that you achieve the best price by advertising on the internet and in the trade press. They will also advise their contacts of what you have to offer. The commission fee is likely to be between 10% and 20% of the sale price. There may be a fee for unsold items.
- Selling to a dealer or a gallery: The advantage of selling in this way is that the transaction is completed swiftly. You can haggle to try to achieve the best price, and nobody will force you to sell if you aren't happy with the price offered. Always remember that the dealer or gallery has a profit to make, so they will never give you top dollar for your item.
- Ebay or Amazon Marketplace: This is not necessarily the best route to take, as you will have to build in reasonable shipping costs. Paintings that are behind glass tend to be heavy, and are not easy to transport. However, there is always the option for the buyer to collect the piece.
- Yard Sale, Garage sale, Boot Sale: These are all excellent ways to sell unwanted items. If you have thoroughly researched your picture, and have decided to sell at any price, then this is as good a route as any.
Some Extra Advice
There are quite a number of contemporary (modern day) artists who are either only recently deceased or who have achieved every artist's dream of becoming successful in their own lifetime. The internet has had a great part to play in this, as it has never been so easy to get your work "out there" as it is today. Some of our great contemporary artists have come from nowhere to be highly collectible in just a few short years.
If you are lucky enough to have a work by one of these up and coming artists, you can easily research their recent auction prices online. Living artists will sometimes buy back earlier work, and it can often be worth approaching the artist, or his or her designated art dealer, before placing a picture up for auction. It's also a good idea to visit the artist's website to make certain that the work is an original. More auction websites are listed in the "resources" section at the bottom of this article.
This article has been written in good faith, but it does not constitute a valuation or appraisal. I do not offer an appraisal or valuation service, but I do hope that the information given here will assist you in discovering more about your art.
Resources: A List of Useful Websites
The following websites feature (free) lists of known artists. If your artist appears on these lists, it is likely that their work is sell-able. Most of these sites offer detailed information such as auction results, image gallery, and artist biographies, but many require payment to fully access the information you need.
Definitely the first port of call for an amateur art researcher. The site is easy to use, and features free auction price listings for thousands of artists. A very useful site.
This site gives you limited (free) access to signatures and monograms, but it is also possible to buy time on the site for more in-depth research.
Artnet is an incredibly useful site for the amateur researcher as it includes free to access images of works sold at auction. Other areas of the site must be paid for however.
This site has a very limited collection of artists' signatures available to view at no cost whatsoever.
This site has high-quality images and good information about thousands of items.You can subscribe for free and once they have your email address yo can then access the price results pages without paying a cent. this site is absolutely the most useful of all the free to access sites when you are researching art.
Allows you to access an amazing amount of information for free once you have signed up.
Public Catalogue Foundation's Paintings
This site has high-quality images and good information about over 2,000 paintings in public ownership in the UK. The artists represented are from across the globe, so don't be put off by the fact that it is a UK based site. If you have a painting and suspect that you know the artist, you can quickly compare your style of painting with those on this website.
This site is really useful if you are looking at comparing your artwork to similar ones that have recently passed through the major auction houses. It isn't anywhere near as comprehensive as some of the sites listed below, but it provides a lot of useful information at zero cost and is worth checking out first.
This excellent site has a comprehensive list of artists, together with (free) access to a limited selection of images, a discussion board, and artist's biographies where available. I've found this site to be very helpful for searching out details of by-gone artists, but not always so helpful with contemporary, living artists. The site has a useful 24hour membership option to enable access to a full range of reduced rate.
Another very helpful site with a good, long list of artists (free) together with images (free) and, a limited amount of price information on the longer listings. The free image gallery is very helpful if you are not certain that you've found the right artist, and want to compare the style of painting. Subscriptions for a full range of services can be purchased for 24 hours, monthly, or annually.
This site bills itself as a 'World leader in art market information'. It seems to have the usual range of information on offer, but the list of artists appears to be more comprehensive. The big plus on this site is that it has a collection of artist's signatures, monograms and symbols. The downside is that it offers hardly any of its services for free, and its 24-hour trial price is on the high side compared to every other site I've listed here.
Questions & Answers
Question: I can’t read the artist signature. How can I find out what it says?
Answer: Picture research is a painstaking, time-consuming task, and requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. The best way to identify an artist from the signature is to compare it to examples of the artist's signatures which can be found in reference books, or online. There's every possibility that you may never identify the artist, as so many paintings are by unlisted amateurs, or artists whose work rarely passes through auction. If you are convinced that you might have a valuable work of art but are unable to take your research any further, you could seek advice from an auction house or art dealer in your local area.
Question: I have two wall hangings that are from Paris with a stamp on the back. How would I know who the artist is?
Answer: Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to identify an artist when no signature is present. If the stamp on the reverse is legible you could try researching that, but I have no real suggestions as to how you might go about this.
Question: I have a pair of Swiss landscape paintings which were in our home in Quebec. The artist signature appears to be E.A.Y.Fox. Written on the back of one is "Wetterhorn". The second has a merchant's stamp on the canvas from G.Meslet Succi. 29 Place de L Hotel-de Ville, Havre. They were a gift from an aunt to my Mom. The aunt was known as a bit of a collector. I have no other ideas or information. I have attempted to search the name with no luck. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: I'm afraid I have also drawn a blank. It may be that your paintings are either by a gifted amateur or a little known professional artist whose work has rarely if ever, passed through the major auctions. This doesn't necessarily mean that the paintings have no value. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there are plenty of buyers who are happy to spend their money on good quality paintings by unknown artists. Unfortunately, we live in a world where well-known names tend to attract big money, but if your paintings are attractive, in good condition, and well-framed, there should be a market for them.
Question: I have a painting by Sano di Pietro entitled: ' La Madonna col Figlio' from the Gallery Belle Arti Siena. How do I get to know more about the value of my Sano di Pietro painting?
Answer: I suspect that what you have is actually a print of Sano di Petro's famous painting which is on public display in Italy. Try copying the title on the label into your computer, and following it with the word 'images'. If I am right, your picture should appear on the screen. Assuming you have a print rather than an actual original work of art, you may find that it has only very limited resale value. There are many of these reproductions in circulation, and they are inexpensive items when sold second-hand.
Question: The name Sam appears on my sailboat painting. Who is it by?
Answer: There must be thousands and thousands of artists named Sam world-wide. It would be impossible for me to pick out a likely candidate with so little to go on. If you put "Sam sailboat painting" into your search engine and look at the vast selection of images that come up in response, you will get some idea of just how many people might be your mystery artist.
If you feel that your painting is possibly by a very good artist and your research is going nowhere you could perhaps try showing the picture to an art dealer or auctioneer in your local area.
Question: My uncle left me a painting signed by Tee Jay Johnson, how can I find out its worth?
Answer: There are a few examples of this artist's work in the past auction results pages on liveauctioneers.com. You might like to compare your painting to those shown and this should give you a rough indication of your item's likely sale value if you decide to enter it for auction.
Question: I purchased an artist signed print by Elmer Schooley. Are prints ever valuable?
Answer: Limited edition prints hand-signed by the artist certainly do have a greater value than prints produced in a so-called 'open edition'. The American artist Elmer Schooley (1916-2007) was a talented printmaker who produced numerous lithographs, woodcuts, and etchings, some of which sell for modestly large sums. There are a couple of examples of his work together with images in the price results pages of liveauctioneers.com. This site is free to sign up to and to access once they have your email address.
Question: I have two prints. The artist's name is Harriet Scherer.
One print is named "Paris" and the other is named "Populi" and was made in 1925. They have a gallery name on them; "The Golden Door Gallery" in Pa. Are they worth anything? Are they real?
Answer: Harriet Scherer's work does not appear to have a big following I'm afraid. Even her original works sell for for minimal amounts, and I doubt if prints would do any better. If your pictures are attractive, in good condition and in good quality frames you may stand a chance of finding a buyer, otherwise you might not be so lucky. You could try seeking advice from a local auction house or a dealer in antiques and collectibles.
Question: I have two sketches/paintings measuring 8"x10" that were purchased in a thrift shop a while back. There is a signature but I can't find any information. Can they still hold value? If where can I have someone professional appraise them?
Answer: There are hundreds of thousands of pre-owned artworks for sale world-wide and only the tiniest fraction of these will be by famous or collectable artists. The vast majority are by unknown artists who are either amateurs or have very limited output. A professional appraiser will be able to indicate a value for insurance purposes, but this service is extremely unlikely to be free of charge. If you are hoping to sell your items you could perhaps enter them for auction or offer them to an art dealer or try an online auction service such as ebay.
Question: I have a painting signed Artis Lane. How do I know if it is really by her?
Answer: There is a website dedicated to the work of contemporary Canadian artist Artis Lane. It may be worth emailing your inquiry to that site including good photographs of the picture from front and back including any framing labels.
Question: Is there a way to find out who the artist is by posting a picture of the painting somewhere?
Answer: If you are talking about a painting which might be a copy, or a print of another work you can simply describe the picture's content followed by the word 'painting' and do an image search. For example, if you were to do an image search using the term 'yellow chair in bedroom painting' you would easily discover the Vincent Van Gogh painting described.
If you are hoping to put an image of any random original picture into a search engine in the hope of discovering the artist, then I have to tell you that I know of no such programme, although it would be an amazing help to art researchers if it were to exist!
Question: I have an oil painting of Roberto Ferruzzi's Madonnina that has been in storage for decades. It is from the estate of my grandparents who passed long ago. How do I determine its value?
Answer: Roberto Ferruzzi's 'Madonnina' is a very well-known painting which has been reproduced many times. I suspect that you either have a canvas reproduction or a copy of the painting by another artist. Prints tend not to have a very high value unless they are hand-signed limited edition prints. Copies by other artists can often have a reasonable value, but this will be dependant on the quality of the artwork and the overall presentation. An auction house or art dealer in your local area might be prepared to provide some guidance.
Question: I live in Southern California, I found a painting under a painting but cannot see a signature. Who can I take the picture to to help see who this artist might be or if it’s even worth anything?
Answer: You might try approaching an auction house or art dealer in your local area. As you will appreciate, it is impossible to make a realistic appraisal of your item without seeing it in person. If you are looking to sell the picture, an auction house should be able to give you an estimate of its likely value.
Question: How can I tell if my Ted De Grazia is a painting or a print on canvas? It's titled "Alone," and has brushmarks.
Answer: I think it's extremely likely that your picture is, in fact, a print. If you do an internet search using 'Ted de Grazia Alone,' you will immediately see multiple images of this picture being sold in various places. Oil prints are very clever these days, and brush marks are imitated extremely well, so it can be hard to tell. Of course, you might have either the original or a copy by another artist, but I suspect that if your picture has a printed label with the name of the picture on it, and possibly the name of the publishing company that created it, then it's very likely just a print.
Question: I can't read the signature on my painting. Can you help?
Answer: There is no easy way to identify signatures or monograms on works of art. A certain amount of these can be discovered online on artist signature sites, most of which require payment to access them. The other alternative is to borrow or buy a reference book. Please bare in mind that the vast majority of original art is by unlisted, amateur artists, and may well have no great monetary value.
Question: I have a canvas painting signed by one J. Ursula. I cannot find out who the artist is. Searches come up with Ursula J Brenner. I bought it at a yard sale. A steal for 25 dollars no matter the artist. Beautiful landscape. Can you help me identify the artist?
Answer: There is a listed German artist painting in the Expressionist style whose work is signed 'Ursula'. If you search on the Blouin Art Sales Index site you can get as far as viewing examples of the artist's work without having to pay for using it. I'm afraid this is the most help I can offer, as you'll appreciate that it is impossible to give information about a painting without actually seeing it in person. There is always the possibility that your painting is not by a known artist at all, as there are so many gifted amateurs out there. A local auction house or art dealer might be able to provide extra information, but if you like the painting and feel you paid a fair price for it you may just prefer to hang it on your wall and enjoy it.
Question: I have an oil painting dated 1919 with "A Dangerous Coast" as the title, it also has the initials N. O'D. I cannot find the artist or title on any website and wondered if you could help?. I have pictures if you would like to see them. I don't think it is in very good condition and probably of little value. I'm interested in its history as it is now 100 years old.
Answer: The fact that it has a title suggests that it might have the name of a framer or gallery on a label that you could perhaps investigate. If the title is printed, it might suggest that you have a canvas print, but it is impossible to say without seeing the item in person. I don't offer a research service, but am happy to help others research their items.
It's possible that you may never find the artist, as not all artists are famous, and not all paintings are valuable. The vast majority of second-hand art has purely decorative value and is only worth as much as another person will pay for it. If you are convinced that you have a potentially valuable item and you wish to sell it, you could approach an art dealer or auction house in your local area, and ask their advice.
Question: I have several paintings that I believe to be of value. I have two artists' names, Tom Lieber and George Lemmers. Can you tell me if these artists' works are of any value?
Answer: Both Tom Lieber and George Lemmers are listed artists whose works often pass through auctions and galleries. To find out about the range of prices typically raised at auction, use the findartinfo.com website. The auction price listings are simple to use, and there is no charge at present.
Question: Where do I go for authentications of artwork?
Answer: The vast majority of paintings on the second-hand market are of so little value that there is no need to authenticate them. Authentication only becomes an issue once an item becomes collectable. Authentication is ideally performed by a living artist or their representatives where possible. Once an artist has died, however, things beome a little more tricky. Authentication is then carried out by a variety of methods. Sometimes there are academic bodies set up for the specific purpose of identifying the work of a single individual artist. Sometimes living relatives are prepared to authenticate the work of a deceased painter. Provenance becomes hugely important when an item is potentially of great value, such as a French Impressionist painting, or an old master. If you have a picture that you believe might be the work of an extremely famous individual, then you could seek advice from one of the high end auction houses whose staff are very skilled at identifying potential fakes, and who often have contacts in the wider art world who might assist with the authentication process.
Question: Is there an app to identify signatures and/or artwork?
Answer: Not that I'm aware of. It would be incredibly popular if it did exist. Given that there are quite literally millions of paintings available for sale all over the world at any time, and they are the collected work of hundreds of thousands of artists, many of whom have very limited output, or else are amateurs, or artists who are virtually unknown outside of their own town or city. I doubt there is a computer programme in the world that could factor in so much variety and also keep constantly up to date. The simple truth is that art research takes a lot of patience and there are very few shortcuts.
Question: We have an oil painting that's been in the family for at least 100 years. It's so dark that we cannot see the artist's signature, but I believe it's some saint sitting in front of a cave or dark bush reading a large book, with what looks like a demon or goat over his left shoulder looking down at him and over his right shoulder there a landscape in the background. The painting is Spanish and religious in nature. Is there anyway we can find out who the artist is?
Answer: Your description reminds me of the famous altar painting by Michael Pacher of the Bavarian Saint Wolfgang. It's not the same picture plan, but might possibly be of the same religious figure.
Your options are to have the painting cleaned to reveal the signature. This is an expensive business if done by a professional, but the painting might be worth the effort. Of course, it is very difficult to judge without seeing it in person. Alternatively, you could take it to a higher end auction house with an art expert on the team. Religious paintings are unusual these days, and most I've seen have been quite old, and sometimes quite valuable.
Question: My great grandmother has a few paintings that are very old and she wants to sell them. The frames are beautiful on some of them. We have no idea how to sell or price them. Where can we get help selling our paintings?
Answer: If your paintings have signatures you can research them yourself by using the free to access listings on findartinfo.com and liveauctioneers.com. This will at least give you some idea as to whether you have paintings by listed artists whose work has already passed through auction.
Please bear in mind that only a tiny fraction of pre-owned art is worth large sums of money. That said, rare and valuable items are uncovered every day. Your collection might include some of them.
The best way to find a likely value for your paintings is either to take them to an auction house, or else to take them to one or more art dealers. Nobody will oblige you to sell your art this way. You always have a choice. Listen to what the experts have to say, and then decide which route is best for you. Do remember to check the amount of commission you will have to pay if you do decide to take the pictures to auction.
Question: I have an oil painting I suspect it is Dutch painted c1750. I can't find the signature. It was restored and I think it may have been removed. I have been told it is valuable. How on earth can I find anything about it?
Answer: It is extremely difficult to attribute any painting without a signature, and it becomes increasingly difficult when the painting is several centuries old. It is unlikely that the signature was removed during cleaning, but the canvas could have been cut down and restretched to remedy damage to the picture.
If the picture is as old as you say, and if it is in a good quality frame, and is in generally good condition, it will be worth having an auction house or art dealer take a look. If you are approaching one of the larger auction houses send your query by email and include photographs of the front and back of the picture. There will be a reason why it has survived more than two centuries, and if the reason is that it is by a master's hand, then it is worth letting an expert look at it for you.
Question: I am a relative of the late Van Waldron from California Bay Area. I have approx 100 originals as well as art from other artists. What is the best way to get started with finding value and selling? There’s so much information out there and it is overwhelming.
Answer: It's probably worth cataloging the paintings as best you can, including every piece of information you currently have. Once you have a comprehensive list, then approach a local auction house or art dealer and ask for their suggestions. Many auctioneers like dealing with single artist collections, as they can be very targetted with their marketing. The other option is for you to exhibit and market the work yourself possibly by hiring space in a gallery or studio, but you will obviously need to seek specialist advice as to value. Perhaps your late relative had an agent acting on his behalf that might assist with this?
Question: I have a few art pieces, and I'd like to know who painted them. The signatures are hard to read. What do I do?
Answer: There is no easy way to overcome this problem, and even experts with years of experience will often puzzle over an unclear signature or set of initials. The fact is that the vast majority of second-hand paintings are either by talented amateurs or by professional artists with very limited output who are not well-known outside of their local area. Not every decent painting will be by a famous artist, as a visit to many an amateur art show will quickly demonstrate. With this in mind, do be prepared for your paintings to remain a mystery. However, there are some excellent books available of artist's signatures, plus a number of websites with listings that you can look at for comparison purposes.
Question: I have recently inherited several hundred works of art. I have managed to identify most of them. However some signatures on works are unrecognizable and some are unsigned. Is there anywhere that you can upload the photographs and find some help?
Answer: How wonderful it would be to find a website that could provide such information at the press of a few buttons! Sadly the reality is that the majority of unattributed paintings are destined to remain anonymous. Paintings with signatures, however, can generally be researched by comparison to other signatures on listing sites on line, but again, do not expect a guaranteed result. Not all artists are listed on websites. Many very competent artists are basically amateurs with limited out put. Their work rarely turns up in galleries or at auction, and consequently they remain unknown to the wider art world.
Please do bear in mind that not all unattributed art works are without value. There are numerous paintings by unknown hands in museums and galleries. Some works of art are so exceptional that they will always have a value, even if the artist is never revealed.
Question: Where can I send a picture of a print to identify the artist?
Answer: Try doing a reverse image search on-line. The instructions are easy to find on the internet, and they are simple to follow.
Question: How could I find out the value of the painting by Irene Lev titled "Fish Market" from The Cleveland May Show?
Answer: Sorry, but I am unfamiliar with this artist, and cannot find any record of her work on the main auction listings sites. I assume she is an artist local to your area, and for this reason I suggest that you ask advice from an auction house or art dealer closer to home.
Question: I have an Abbott Fuller Graves "Doorway and Garden" oil on board in a large, Victorian-style, gold frame. It's unsigned, but there's maybe an initial bottom right. I'm just wondering how I verify its value?
Answer: Without seeing your item in person it's impossible for me to know whether my suspicions are correct, but I feel that there's a good possibility that you either have an oil canvas print, or else a copy of the original painting by another artist. Prints are never worth as much as originals by the same artist. There are several "Doorway and Garden" prints currently listed on eBay, and these may give you an idea of the likely value of your item.
Question: Can you help me identify the name on a painting?
Answer: Unfortunately, I am not able to offer this service. There are numerous online sites, however, which allow you to browse their collection of artist's signatures. The majority of them charge an access fee. Identifyartistssignatures.com has a limited range of signatures that you can browse for free, as does WikiCommons. Another alternative is to look at a book of artist's signatures and monograms at a local library. There are quite a number of these available, and they can sometimes be picked up at a reasonable price on Amazon, eBay or abebooks.co.uk. If you often have paintings on your hands, you might find these books a good investment.
Question: My mother passed and left me a C. Van Essen 24 x 36 Dutch Landscape picture. It is in a beautiful frame and has a certificate but no date on the certificate. The number on the label is 60514401H/655D. How can I identify the value of this C. Van Essen landscape?
Answer: It is impossible to give an accurate estimate as to the value of an artwork without seeing it in person, so you might do well to show your item to an auction house or art dealer in your local area. My only note of caution is the fact the picture has a label and a certificate might suggest that it is a print rather than an original. Prints are worth considerably less than original artworks by the same artist. An easy way to check whether it is a print is to look at it with a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe. If you can see a pattern of regular dots instead of brushstrokes then you can be sure it is a print.
Question: If I send you a painting with the name (that I can't read) can you tell me about it?
Answer: Sorry Alvin, I don't offer this service, but even if I did, it's quite possible that your picture's artist might never be identified. Not all paintings are by listed artists. In fact most pictures are by unknown artists or by amateur artists, and their value's are limited. It is always worth researching a promising painting however, although this can often be a time-consuming and painstaking process, even for someone with considerable experience.
Question: I have a blue painting signed “Paul” but don’t know how to find any of his works! How can I get info on this artist?
Answer: There must be hundreds or possibly even thousands of artists with the name Paul. Your painting may be by anyone of them. If you are determined to research this yourself you could try the free to access listings sites first. The ones I find most useful are findartinfo.com, liveauctioneers.com, and eBay. You can access past auction results on all these sites, and you do not have to sign up for an expensive access package to do so.
Question: How can I find out where my art picture came from?
Answer: Follow the hints and tips in the article. If you have a clear signature, research using the free listings on findartinfo.com. If you are unable to research the picture yourself, but are convinced it may be valuable, show it to an auction house or art dealer in your local area.
Question: I have a cityscape painting by Stareck. How do a I know if it is worth anything?
Answer: The American artist Edgar A. Stareck (1917-1987) painted a variety of subjects, and some are definitely more saleable than others. Pictures by this artist often come to auction, and generally have sales estimates between US $200-600. If you intend to sell your item you need to approach an auction house or art dealer in your local area.
Question: I have the painting "Summertime" by Alexei Harlamoff. It is signed but I’m not sure if it’s a genuine signature or a copy. If a copy, is it likely to be worth anything?
Answer: The original painting, "Summertime" by the Russian artist Alexei Harlamoff was sold at Christie's auction house for £289,250 in 2009. This is a well-known painting and there are many reproductions of it in circulation. I suspect that you either have a print or a copy by another artist. If you have a print the value will be quite limited. If you have a very good quality copy by another artist in a good quality frame, it will have a little more value, but obviously nowhere near as much as the original!
Question: How would I find the value of a 1943 etching from New York?
Answer: You do not say whether the artwork is signed, or whether you know who the artist is. Etchings can be very valuable if they are by the right artist, but it is not always easy to discern, and the appraisal of etchings can be a specialist's field. I suggest you seek advice from an auction house or art dealer in your local area.
Question: What do I do if I find a rare painting at a garage sale and after research, I think it is the work of a well-known artist?
Answer: This is every bargain hunter's dream scenario. You don't give me any clues as to how 'well-known' this artist is. Paintings by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Renoir, Frederic Remington, Marc Chagall etc., are almost impossible to authenticate and sell without either excellent, provable provenance, or detailed research by an art professional. If, however, your painting is worth somewhere between $500 and $10,000, which is still a handsome sum, you can just present yourself and your item to an auction house or art dealer and get their advice. Paintings by high-value artists need to be referred to one of the more high-end auctioneers such as Sotheby's, Christie's etc. If this is your likely route, email your inquiry to the auction house including good quality photos of the picture both front and back with close-ups of any labels, chalk marks, written notes on the frame, or other distinguishing features.
Question: I have a picture which has written across the bottom "164/950," and embossed with "WCS" as separate letters in squares. Then there are the initials "5AK" or "SAK." Can you help to identify the artist?
Answer: It's very difficult to give constructive advice without seeing the picture in person. I don't undertake picture research for other people as this is a time-consuming and painstaking process. There are others, however, on the internet who will take on a project, but there is normally a fee involved. All that I can tell you from the little information that you've provided is that you appear to have a limited edition print. There is a Polish artist named Izabela Sak whose paintings and prints can be found on the Saatchi Gallery website, and the artist Steve A Kaufman (1960-2010) signed his work with the initials "SAK." Examples of his work can be viewed on the results pages of liveauctioneers.com (this is free to sign up to and to access). Other than those two suggestions, I'm afraid my only advice is to trawl through one of the online dictionaries of artist's signatures and monograms. Realistically, however, there are millions of artworks available for sale at any given time, and not all of them will be traceable via an internet search. You may have to accept that not all artwork is identifiable and that sometimes you have to live with the mystery and just enjoy the picture for what it is.
Question: I have a painting from an artist whose signature I can't read. I can tell what the first name is, but I'm lost on the last name. How can I find out who this artist is?
Answer: There's no easy solution to this I'm afraid. You might try comparing the signature to those of listed artists either on one of the many artist signature sites (you will probably have to pay a subscription to use these) or else use an artist's signature reference book. These are widely available on Amazon, eBay, etc., and can sometimes be found in public libraries. Please be aware that many amazing artists never become listed, simply because there are many talented amateurs who never produce a large enough body of work to attract mainstream attention. This is great news for those who collect art for the love of it, but not such good news for those hoping to turn a profit.
Question: I think I have a signed, dated and numbered lithograph by Pablo Picasso. Would it be of any value?
Answer: If it is a genuine example, well presented and in good condition, then certainly it will be of value. Take a look at the price results pages on liveauctioneers.com to see the range of prices achieved for similar items. The site is free to sign up to, and there is no charge for accessing the results pages.
Question: Is there a site where I can submit a photograph of a painting to find an artist? I have an original Haitian oil painting possibly from the 1960s or 70s. Signature is very clear: Toussaint. As there are several Haitian artists with this surname, I would like to identify the full name.
Answer: I don't know of any site that would offer such a service, and even if there were one, they would be unlikely to offer it for free, as art research can be a time-consuming process requiring a great deal of patience, expertise, and sometimes luck! There are quite literally millions of pre-owned paintings for sale at any one time and only a tiny fraction of these will be by a well-known artist. Many are by amateurs, or else by professional artists who are scarcely known outside of their local area.
A useful tool for collectors trying to track down an artist where there is more than one potential candidate is the results page on liveauctioneers.com. You can sign up to this website for free. I just looked at the listings on that site and there are currently over 500 images of works by various artists with the sir-name Toussaint. Perhaps you could try comparing your paintings to see if there is a named artist with a similar style.
Question: I'm trying to find the value of several Paul Lauritz painting. How do I do this?
Answer: If you go on the findartinfo.com website you will be able to see auction results for Paul Lauritz. There are over 180 results listed, so you should be able to get some idea of the range of prices achieved for this artist. If you then go on to the liveauctioneers.com website (you need to sign up for this, but it is free to use once they have your email address) you can look at the results listings there. These include images which is probably what you need to get a rough idea of likely value.
Question: I have two prints - digital artwork pieces I purchased some 17 years ago that I am now trying to identify. I have tried the internet with the works' titles "Metamorphosis 3" and "Rusty" but to no avail. How can I identify these digital artwork pieces?
Answer: Because of the nature of the art form, it is extremely difficult to identify a piece of digital artwork without a signature. You could try posing your question on one of the forums dealing with digital artwork, but I'm afraid the artist may remain unknown.
Question: I have a painting signed with the initials D.N. A man purporting to be an expert says it's French and worth "thousands". Do these initials sound familiar? I don't want to waste any more time researching. It's been donated to raise funds for an animal charity.
Answer: Given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of artists worldwide it is fair to assume that a good number of them sign their pictures with the initials D.N. If you look at the monogram search feature on findartinfo.com you will find a list of eleven artists who sign in this way, but there are likely to be many more. If this painting has been donated for charity, and you have reason to suspect that it is valuable, then perhaps you might consider putting it through auction?
Question: My picture has no signature but it has an item number, can I look under that to check the value?
Answer: Pictures with labels on the reverse marked in this way are very often reproductions. It is impossible to say for certain without seeing your item in person, but an unsigned picture with an inventory number on a label on the reverse may well be a print. Try looking at the surface of the picture under a magnifying glass or jeweler's loupe. If the surface is comprised of a series of regular dots it is very unlikely to be an original painting.
Question: I have a painting and I am trying to establish who the artist is. It is similar to a Dorothy Braund (Australian, died 2013) but there is no clear signature. Is there someone I can ask to authenticate my painting?
Answer: Dorothy Braund is among those rare phenomena, an artist who becomes collectible within their own lifetime.
The problem with prolific, well-known contemporary artists whose work is climbing in value, is that there will inevitably be many copyists, imitators, and even forgers who will have replicated her paintings. With this in mind, you need to approach one of the larger auction houses if you are hoping to sell. The big international auction houses such as Sotheby's have a pool of experts that they can call on to give advice. Try emailing your inquiry in the first instance and include photos of your item from back and front as well as a close-up of the signature and details of its provenance.
Question: I have an old framed print. In the lower right-hand corner, "Path to the Meadow, No. 914" is printed. There is no other info. Have you heard of it?
Answer: Unfortunately, I can cast no light on this for you. A quick google search on this title brought up a print of the same name produced by the artist Ken Danby in 1980. This sold on an eBay auction in 2015 for $77, and there are other listings for this print on several other sites. However, "Path to a Meadow" is the sort of subject that many landscape artists might tackle.
Question: I have a painting of four pieces of fruit. It looks old but it's hard to tell. It's signed F Gabe and then the last little bit of the signature has chipped so I can't tell what it says. I've researched with no help. How can I discover who the artist of my painting is?
Answer: Researching incomplete signatures can be tricky. If you search F. Gabe in the free listings on findartinfo.com you will find several possible candidates. You will then need to look at examples of their work on-line using image search to see if they are stylistically similar.
Alternatively, there are numerous artist signature sites on-line, and you could simply trawl through the G section of one of them to see if you can find a similar signature.
Question: I have a painting which looks about fifty years old. Is it old or not? If the artist is alive, but I've got the painting in a yard sale, can I sell it, or do I need his permission?
Answer: Fifty years old is not a great age for a painting. There are plenty of living artists who have been painting that long. However, once a painting has passed out of the artist's hands either by him selling it, or gifting it, then it is no longer his property, and it may be re-sold or re-gifted just like any other item.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 09, 2020:
If you have inherited items which you believe to be of value, and you wish to sell them, you could offer them via auction, via an art or antiques and collectables dealer, or privately through advertising or through an online listing service. If the town you live in has no suitable auction house or art dealer available to assist you, you could approach one in a larger town or city. Your initial enquiry should be via email, and should include photographs of your items from front, reverse, and with close-ups of signatures, stamps, or other identifying marks. You should also include details of provenance, and any documentation to support this.
Chezeve on July 09, 2020:
I have inherited these gouaches from the late Jean Urvoy of his Rance collection.
I live in a provincial town of WA state & really don’t know my best course of action. Wish I could upload a picture. They do not look like prints but original paper affixed to a yellowing larger paper. Some have written French text on the back. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 01, 2020:
There are currently four listings of paintings by this artist on ebay.com. They have quite a range of prices, and I suspect that they do not accurately reflect a realistic value for these works. Art is worth what another person is prepared to pay for it. If you are hoping to sell the item you could possibly ask the advice of a local art dealer or auctioneer, or you could take your chances in an on-line auction.
Rameses Gamboa on June 26, 2020:
I just bought a painting with signature of D.Minchew how will I know the true value of it? Thank you for the answer
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on June 07, 2020:
I haven't been able to find any information about this artist, however, there is a current listing for a small oil painting signed by A. Losi on ebay.com.
donald malaj on June 07, 2020:
hello i have a small painting its a oil painting but the i have search for signature on the internet but i dont have find nothing the name of artist is A.Losi and the painting is a landscape house . river and trees around please help me
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 14, 2020:
H.Wood is an incredibly common name, and there are a nymber of artists signing themselves this way. I recommend that you look at the auction price results pages on liveauctioneers.com where you will be able to compare your paintings to others that have recently sold. The site is free to sign up to and there is no charge for looking at their results pages.
Gomercindo Ibo on January 14, 2020:
I bought landscape paintings with signature H.Wood. Please anyone can help me give information about the artist.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on June 23, 2019:
There are several listed artists with the sir-name Hellner, and you can find auction price results for some of them on the findartinfo.com website. This site is free to access and is a useful tool when researching paintings. Please bear in mind that there will be other artists with this sir-name who are amateurs or not well-known enough to appear in an internet search.
Angerhelp57 on June 19, 2019:
I have an oil painting on canvas G HELLNER it is a painting of ships on the ocean it looked to be the real thing have you ever heard of this artist?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 27, 2019:
There are a number of price results for an artist signing himself 'G. Robert' on www.liveauctioneers.com. The site is free to sign up to, and there is no charge for accessing auction results.
matt Drennan on April 26, 2019:
I have a beautiful train painting by a g.robert i am trying to identify it is a oil painting but have struck out on artist searches the painting is 24×36 i would like any help you can provide
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on March 18, 2019:
Babz, there are numerous dictionaries of signatures on-line, and your best bet is to compare your artist's signature to other examples. I'm sorry that I can't offer any more help than this, but this is exactly what I would do, and the same goes for any other art researcher. There is no silver bullet in art research, it's just a matter of lots of patience.
Babz Milton on February 24, 2019:
I am looking for this artist but the signature is confounding It is an original watercolor Plaese Help?
johanholmberg on August 20, 2018:
Very good article! One resource that i use a lot but is missing in this article is Art Signature Dictionary, www.artsignaturedictionary.com – They have a big database of artists signatures and monograms (even proven forgeries) with modern and easy search functionality. They also have art prices and biographies. Would recommend to check it out and may be put in the resource lists here.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 19, 2018:
Hi Linda Mugrage,
Sorry, but nothing immediately springs to mind. Your description reminded me of the religious paintings of William Blake, but I can't find one that exactly fits. It's very hard to point you in the right direction with so little to go on.
Linda Mugrage on August 16, 2018:
I'm trying to find a reprint of a religious painting. It's of I think The Holy Father sitting in a chair. But all that is in painting is from waist down, he's in a long gown n hes reaching down as to pick someone up... Can you help me here?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on January 20, 2018:
Hi Ashley Anthony, I would suggest you show the painting to an auctioneer for advice if you are planning to sell it. Alternatively, post a photograph of the signature on Yahoo Answers or a similar site. There is no guarantee of finding an answer, but sometimes generous and knowledgeable people are willing to help with research. However, if you find your item to be beautiful, and have no concern about its value, you might just hang it on your wall and enjoy it. Good luck with your research, and thank you for reading the article.
Ashley anthony on January 16, 2018:
I'm trying to find out about this painting I have I can't identify the name of the signature but its a beatuful. Painting wanting to know if its worth anything.. Even if it isn't its still beautiful.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on May 24, 2017:
Hi Leanore, thank you for your kind comments, and I am glad you enjoyed the read. Please feel free to reference the article on your website. Best wishes, Amanda,
Leanore King from Austin, TX on May 23, 2017:
This is a GREAT article! I may need to reference it in an upcoming post on www.Lost-Leanore.com! I hope that would be alright. :)
Keep up the great work! This post is epic.
Elinor Zechmann on July 25, 2016:
Thanks Amanda. appreciate
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 21, 2016:
Hi Elinor, this article, and its sister article, are intended to act as a jumping off point for your own further research. I'm afraid I don't offer a personal research service. If you have a clear, readable signature, Blouin's Art Sales Index on-line will give you an indication as to whether you have a work by a 'listed' artist. If indeed you do have such a work, you could take it to an auctioneer for further advice. They will have access to current sales listings, and will be able to suggest a likely value. This advice is normally free. If your signature is not readable and you've explored every avenue, you could try posting on Yahoo answers or wiki answers. Sometimes kindly, knowledgeable people will spend an hour or two of their time to help you for free, although this isn't necessarily guaranteed. Good luck!
Elinor Zechmann on July 20, 2016:
I see the last comment was seven months ago, I hope you are there and are able to advise me. I am trying to identify an old painting and Signature on the painting. I have done intensive "googling" but nothing seems to help.
Are you able to do so? or perhaps point me in a direction?
I really enjoyed your above informative article. much appreciated.
I am also somewhat in the dark whether to post the pics/info about the painting here.
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on December 09, 2015:
A very interesting and helpful hub. Thank you for sharing.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 08, 2015:
Hi Amanda. You're welcome. I do and hope others will too.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on April 08, 2015:
Hi Kristen Howe, I hope you found the article helpful. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on April 07, 2015:
This was a great hub about learning about your artwork. Great list too on those websites. Real useful and informative, too. Voted up!
jandee from Liverpool.U.K on December 03, 2012:
Hello again Amanda, have just found a painting on Ebay by the artist I was talking about -Ruth Harvey..............Won't make a fortune but nice to find it has some interest, thanks for your prompt,jandee
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on December 03, 2012:
Hi Jandee, I'm glad you found your way here, and I hope the info included here is helpful. The internet is invaluable for searching out nuggets of information, but it's not always obvious where to look first. I've tried to include some useful pointers, and there's more details in my earlier hub,
These are interesting times we're living through, and sometimes it's hard to drag yourself away from the bigger picture, if you'll pardon the pun!
jandee from Liverpool.U.K on December 03, 2012:
what a lovely hub. Life happens and we get involved in politics and such.
We really should just follow our heart and read about what we enjoy which is what I have just done . Thanks for such a wealth of information. I have two paintings here and have for ages intended to 'discover'more about them so thanks for the push,
best from jandee
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on November 05, 2012:
Amanda, you are so kind. I really appreciate you spending your time to help me. And yes, you are correct. The money is not the most important thing to me as is finding the proper home with someone who will appreciate the simplicity of these two pieces. They were gifted to me and I have felt all along that they belonged somewhere else. Thank you so much for the resources. I will certainly follow up with both of them. I cannot express my gratititude adequately. Thank you.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on November 05, 2012:
I've had a quick look to see what I could find out about these two artists, as neither of them was familiar to me. The Blouin Art Sales Index reveals that both artists are saleable, as several works by each have passed through auction. Neither is making vast sums as yet, but the fact that their paintings find buyers is still encouraging. I get the impression from your comment that money is not as important to you as finding a suitable new home for them. My suggestion would be to use the discussion boards on the AskArt web-site, or on the ArtConversation site to see if you can track down family members who might help you in your quest. Good luck!
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on October 30, 2012:
Amanda - one is Tim Vigil and the other is Gerda Christoffersen. I would welcome any suggestions you might have about how to find a home for them. Thanks so much.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on October 30, 2012:
Hi lrc815, thank you for your interesting comment. I'm quite intrigued to know who the artists you mention actually are! I'm glad the hub has proved helpful to you. Good luck with your future research.
Linda Crist from Central Virginia on October 27, 2012:
I am so happy to find this hub. I have two original pieces of art that were done by two individuals who both became quite well known for their American Indian art. The two pieces are some of their first and are quite charming, although obviously done by a new artist. Both pieces are signed by the artist, clearly, and both artists are now dead. I have been trying to find a way to either return these originals to their families or, to find them a new home among a collection of the more advanced works of these two artists. I found some great resources in your hub. Thanks so much. Voted up for sure.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 28, 2012:
This article is not intended as an appraisal service, and unfortunately, the limited information that you have given would be insufficient to identify an artist. If you need further assistance with this, you might try an on-line appraisal service, or else post a photograph of your picture on Webanswers.com, or another similar site, where people are waiting to answer your questions at no charge. Good luck!
bpagee on August 26, 2012:
I have a painting I just purchased at an estate sale, the best I can tell the signature looks like it starts out JEA and is dated 1904. The painting consists of people setting in what looks to be an outside restaurant.
Can anyone help me identify who the artist may be?
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on August 05, 2012:
Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Belleart.
belleart from Ireland on August 04, 2012:
Very helpful hub.
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 19, 2012:
Hi Barb, thank you for stopping by, and I'm glad you found the hub useful. It's a lot easier to find out about paintings than it used to be, but it helps to know where to look, and that was what I was aiming to share here. As regards your mother's Madonna and Child print, please feel free to e-mail me a photo of it, and I will do my best to I.D. it for you.
Barbara from Stepping past clutter on July 18, 2012:
Amanda! What a great hub. I have got to come back here and do some indepth study. I think I told you years ago about a favorite Madonna and Child print my mother has, whose artist I cannot identify. My sister will inherit the print and I would like to purchase a copy for myself, if I can find one. Now I know where I can come to figure out this research challenge. Voted up and I will try and bookmark it, if that remains possible. I don't know all the new tricks at hubpages... Anyway, I know where to find you. Thanks so much!!!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 10, 2012:
Hi Dolores, I love the story about the Jackson Pollock. I'm sure that he's a popular artist for would-be forgers to try and copy. Much simpler to recreate a Pollock than a Millais or a Holman Hunt! As to the masterpiece in the yard sale, I actually know someone who picked up two portrait miniatures by Robert Thorburn in a car boot sale here in the UK. They were eventually sold through Sothebys, and made a very good price. These little gems are out there, you just have to get lucky!
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on July 10, 2012:
This is a wonderful and oh so helpful hub. I love that you included so many links. How many of us have that little dream that we find a valuable painting at a yard sale! Ha,ha. There was a story awhile back about a woman who owned, I think it was, a Jackson Pollack painting. It took her years of research to prove it but she did. Some art researcher IDed the painting by a fingerprint of the artist!
Amanda Severn (author) from UK on July 10, 2012:
Thank you for your comment Kartika.
kartika damon from Fairfield, Iowa on July 09, 2012:
I didn't there are so many resources for finding this information! Good job!