How to find out who is the Artist of a Painting?

In 2012, the painting Paysage Bords de Seine by Pierre-Auguste Renoir was brought by a lady for a mere $7 from the Virginia Flea market. She was utterly clueless about the artist and had no idea that the painting she was getting is worth a lot more.

Come to think of it, if she had an idea on how to find the artist of the painting, it might have been a different story today. End of the day, be it a family painting that has been hanging for years or something you picked up at a thrift store, it always makes sense to know who the artist is and how much it is worth.

However, given that there are countless artists creating paintings for centuries, it gets difficult to identify the creator. We’ve rounded up three methods which will help you to figure out who is the artist of any painting. It might be a complete fail and you might need professional help, but there’s no harm in trying it out by yourself, don’t you think?

How to find out who is the artist of a painting?

Honestly, finding a masterpiece that has still not been identified and slipped art enthusiasts radar is a rare affair. Learning more about an art piece, be it from a famous artist or an undiscovered artist, can often get tricky. Fortunately, you can always narrow down the information by assessing the style, subject matter, and composition of the painting. So let’s start with the first method.

Method 1: Examine the Paintings

If you’re curious about a specific piece of art, then the first thing you need to do is, take a closer look at it. It will help you determine if it’s an original artwork or a cheap reproduction.

Assess the Composition of the Painting: If you’re an art enthusiast, you would probably have a little idea of the style and composition of the painting, you’re looking to identify. However, if you’re clueless, you can always seek help from an expert. They might just help you with identifying the style, period, and composition of the artwork.

Start with narrowing down the date: Take a close look at the painting to pick up clues on the probable year or period it was made. You can always seek professional help but few clues like a time-specific component of the painting can be your bottom line. For instance, an airplane in the background tells you that the painting must be after 1903.

Try to identify the artistic movement: Determining the art movement that the painting belongs to is one of the quickest ways to narrow down your search for the artist. Some of the most common art movements are Neoclassical, Realism, Abstract, Flemish, and much more to look out for.

Determine the Media used: As the art evolved, so did the medium that artists used. While tempera media was extensively used during the 12th to 15th century, it was taken over by oil painting and then came acrylics. So, get as close as you can to the painting and try looking out for signs that would give away the media.

Assess the canvas Used: If the canvas of the painting is stapled right into the frame, it is more likely to belong to be made after 1900. However, if the canvas is hanging from the frame, then it must be made before the 1600s.

Method 2: Use the Power of the Internet

If you’re still clueless and unable to determine the artists, it’s time to take harness the power of the search engines. The internet is filled with resources for you to scour through and find the answer to your pertinent question. However, be aware that you might not even find anything useful, but it’s always good to give it a try. You can always use Google’s image search to start with and see if you can get any match. Plus, you could also try to match the artist’s signature with the existing database of artists to find your answers.

There are also a few successful applications like Smartify and Magnus that can also help you find out the artist of the painting. Once you click the picture, these apps will pull up information available all over the internet and give you details on the artist’s work, along with some other background information about the composition, which looks like a fair deal. But, again be aware, that you might not get enough information, so you might have to now use the third method.

Method 3: Time to Ask an Expert

Seeking professional help when you’re unable to figure out the artist is possibly your last resort. Your artist friend, art curator, history professor, or even a gallery owner, can provide you more insights on the piece of art. They might even be able to guide you through the style, medium, technique, composition, or even the period, of the painting.

You can start by contacting a local auction house or an art dealer for their opinions. However, don’t expect too much of their expertise for free, as these people have spent years studying art.

To Sum Up

It may take years of effort to determine if the painting that you picked up from the flea market is worth a billion dollars or not. However, you would never be able to know unless you check. But, if it’s not valuable, don’t be worried just hang it and enjoy the art.  And if you’d like to get the reproduced masterpieces created, visit

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