With so much art to choose from, it can be difficult to know what to prioritise when selecting a piece for your home. In this article, we reveal why an artist’s signature is a must-have for your next art purchase.
What makes an artwork valuable differs from one person to the next; we love hearing your personal stories for our monthly Your World, Our Art® competition. We also pride ourselves on the quality of our materials and the calibre of our artists. Experts reveal that a signature can also add value to an artwork, with signed works fetching up to 10 times as much at auction.
Unlike cheaper, mass-produced prints or posters, original or limited edition art is hand-signed by the artist and there is a finite number available. When you invest in an artist’s signature, you are choosing an artwork that has been personally curated by the artist – and what could be more valuable than that?
Throughout history, artists’ signatures have been used as a way to date their work. Whilst many artworks by Old Masters went unsigned, a shift occurred during the Renaissance as artists moved away from the cooperative guild systems and embraced their individual creativity. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that artists signing their work became standard practice.
Many artists, including Rembrandt and Pablo Picasso, changed their signature over time. The latter signed his work as ‘Ruiz-Picasso’ and ‘P.R. Picasso’ before adopting the underlined ‘Picasso’ moniker he is known for today.
Vincent van Gogh and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec would often only sign the work they intended to sell. In fact, the steady dash under Picasso’s signature is sometimes interpreted as a resolute farewell to his creation. When an artist puts their name to a piece, they are acknowledging it as their own and giving their permission for it to enhance the life of someone else.
A signature can be surprisingly insightful, uncovering personality traits and inspirations that would otherwise remain secret. Handwriting experts believe that Georgia O’Keeffe’s cursive, whimsical script represents a healthy balance of art and life, whilst Michelangelo’s downward slant indicates discontent with his work. An underlined signature could also express a desire to be recognised.
The location of a signature can certainly keep people guessing! Francisco Goya hid micro-signatures throughout his work, while Romero Britto uses his as a recurring motif. Artists may also choose to use a symbol instead of script, including Jean-Michel Basquiat’s crown and James McNeill Whistler’s butterfly. A signature can be created without pencil or ink; Andy Warhol used a stamp and Vincent van Gogh signed his creations with the handle of a paintbrush.
Signatures are notoriously difficult to forge successfully, especially with modern technology like pigment analysis and UV lights. Only a select few artists – including our very own John Myatt – have managed to fool experts, highlighting the value of a genuine signature.
All of our limited edition artworks are carefully recreated with the full involvement of our artists, and come with a certificate of authenticity to establish provenance. Along with working with esteemed professionals like Andy Warhol’s original printer, Alexander Heinrici, we have a specialist atelier team that collaborates with our artists to replicate colours and textures, including hand-embellishment – making each piece authentic and unique.
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© Copyright Washington Green Retail Limited trading as Castle Fine Art. First published 2012, last updated 2020. Washington Green Retail Limited acts as a credit broker and offers credit products from Secure Trust Bank PLC trading as V12 Retail Finance.
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