Glossary of terms useful for buying and selling paintings at auction Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals


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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals MagazineFine Art > Expert Tip
Glossary of terms useful for discussing the signature before 
buying and selling paintings & fine art at auction


Finding Authentic Autographs

Autographs: Value Beyond Words

Do You Homework before Buying an Oil Painting

Old Master Reproductions

German Expressionsim


- the signature on paintings & fine art 
 The following are examples of the terminology used in regards to the signature on paintings, particularly in auction catalogs. Please note that all statements and terms are subject to the provisions of the Conditions of Sale that the Galleries and Consignors make with respect to any lot.
A modern expressionist work
from Jef Friboulet

A. Authorship

1. (Artist) This is our highest category of authenticity and, as such, indicates that the work, in our best judgment, is by the named artist. (No unqualified statement as to authorship is made or intended.)

2. Attributed to (Artist) In our best judgment a work of the period and in the style of the artist; may be the work of the artist, in whole or in part, but less certainty of authorship than in the preceding category.

3. Studio of (Artist)
In our best judgment a work by an unknown hand working in the artistís studio.

4. Circle of (Artist)
In our best judgment a work of the period of the artist and closely related to the artistís style.

5. Style of (Artist)
In our best judgment a work by a pupil or follower of the artist in his lifetime or shortly thereafter.

6. Manner of (Artist)
In our best judgment a work in the style of the artist, possibly of a later date.

7. After (Artist)
In our best judgment a copy of the known work by the artist.

B. Title

If there is a generally accepted title of the lot, that title is given at the beginning of the description. If the work does not have a title or the title is not known to us, a descriptive title is given.


C. Signature

The signature, inscriptions and dates are transcribed in print as they appear and are located specifically as follows:

l/l: lower left
l/r: lower right
l/c: lower center

u/l: upper left
u/r: upper right
u/c: upper center


1. Signed: The signature is, in our opinion, the signature of the artist.


2. Bears Signature: Has a signature which, in our opinion, might be the signature of the artist.


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