Greek Artist's Signature

Greek Artist's Signature

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Euphronios, also spelled Euphronius, (flourished c. 520–470 bce ), one of the most celebrated Greek painters and potters of his time. He experimented with new ideas, forms, and designs within the context of the Archaic tradition, especially the adoption and exploration of the new red-figure technique. His signature has been identified on a number of vessels, 8 signed by him as painter and at least 12 as potter. Generally, Euphronios’s earlier works were signed as painter and his later works as potter.

Among the vases signed by Euphronios as painter is one of Heracles (Herakles, Hercules) wrestling Antaeus (Antaios), dated about 510–500 bce and now in the Louvre, Paris. It has been praised for its excellent drawing. A kylix (shallow earthenware cup with stem and handles), now in the State Collection of Antiquities (Staatliche Antikensammlungen) in Munich, is another example of Euphronios’s work as painter (c. 510–500 bce ). A young horseman is painted on the inside of the kylix. Heracles in combat with the triple-bodied Geryon—a monster who kept large herds of cattle, the theft of which was one of Heracles’ labours—is painted on the outside.

As a potter, Euphronios worked with some of the finest vase painters of his time. The paintings of several, among them Douris, Makron, Hyakynthos, and Onesimos, have been identified on vases signed by Euphronios. Most, however, were painted by the Panaitios Painter. The Pistoxenus Painter was another of the painters of Euphronios’s pots. A white-ground cup, now in the Berlin Antiquities Collection (Antikensammlung), signed by Euphronios as potter and Pistoxenus as painter, is the last known signed work by Euphronios. In terms of its style, it could not have been made earlier than 470 bce .

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kathleen Kuiper, Senior Editor.


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Kleitias, also spelled Cleitias, (flourished c. 580–c. 550 bce ), Athenian vase painter and potter, one of the most outstanding masters of the Archaic period, the artist of the decorations on the François Vase. This vase, a volute krater painted in the black-figure style, is among the greatest treasures of Greek art. Dating from c. 570 bce , it was discovered in 1844 in an Etruscan tomb near Chiusi and named after its discoverer it is now in the Museo Archeologico at Florence.

More than 200 figures are found among the six friezes (painted on superimposed zones) that decorate the vase’s surface. In content alone, the François Vase is an encyclopaedia of the epic themes popular during the Archaic period. The vase is signed “ Ergotimos epoiēsen Kleitias egraphsen” (“Ergotimos made [me] Kleitias painted [me]”).

Kleitias’s signature has been found on five vases. Four of these, like the François Vase, are signed by Kleitias as painter and Ergotimos as potter. Also from the hands of the two masters in collaboration are two cups and some cup fragments, from which most of the signatures have been lost. Other vases and fragments of other vases have been attributed to Kleitias on the basis of style.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Naomi Blumberg, Assistant Editor.

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas

Born on 26 February 1906 in Athens, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas was a prolific painter, sculptor, engraver and writer. As a young 23-year-old, he went to Paris in 1923 to study French Literature and Esthetics at the Sorbonne University. It was there that he participated in an exhibition that took place in the Salon des Indépendants.

He later furthered his education at the Academie Ranson, studying painting, and held his first exhibition at Gallerie Percier in 1927, where he even was noticed by the great Picasso himself. Back in Greece, he was part of the Generation of the Thirties, a group of Greek writers and painters who had the desire to enrich the country’s present by modernizing its ancient glories.

Co-founder of the “Armos” art group, he represented Greece at the 1950 Venice Biennale. The artist gained international fame and exhibited across the globe, and even became a member of the Academy of Athens as well as of the Royal Academy in London and the Tiberiana Academy in Rome. Considered a leading Greek painter and known for his Greek landscapes, his home has been transformed into a museum run by the Benaki museum.

How Do You Identify Artist Signatures on Paintings?

To identify artist signatures on paintings, locate the signature or the monogram on the painting, and note the painting type. Use John Castagno's signature directories available from Scarecrow Press or as an online database on the Artists' Signatures website to verify signatures or identify symbols, monograms and illegible signatures. If the artwork is of local origin, contact a local art gallery owner, museum curator or historian.

To locate the signature or monogram of the artist, check the painting's margins or backside. Sometimes, the name of the artist, the title and the year are printed on the painting's reverse side. In case of framed artworks, remove the backing to access this information.

John Castagno's 12 signature directories include a list of monograms, indiscernible signatures and signatures of illustrators, abstract artists and artists from Europe, America and Latin America active from the 1800s till the present times. To purchase these directories, access the Scarecrow Press website, and type Castagno in the search box on the top right corner.

The Artists' Signatures website is a database containing 55,000 signature examples that correspond to 50,000 artists. To use this site, type in the artist's name. Filter the search using the options under Featured Categories. Click on the name of the artist from the list, and log in to your account to view the full profile of the artist.

To identify symbols, illegible signatures and monograms on this database, click on Reverse Lookup, and choose the appropriate option from the drop-down menu. View the database examples arranged alphabetically, and match with the one being researched.

On the Artists' Signatures website, preliminary access is free. A nominal payment is required to access particular signature examples and artists' names.

Motifs in Ancient Greece

Many of the motifs involved Greek gods, or plants and animals, such as the set shown below. The elaborate design(s) on the set include Dionysus (the god of wine) and his wife, Ariadne. Likewise, the motif on the earrings is of a muse playing a lyre sitting above the crescent shape of the set.

Set of Jewelry, Hellenistic, ca. 330-300 BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History): New York City, 2019

Animal motifs were as common as those of the gods. Below, two sets of golden rams adorn these bracelets the heads of the ram(s) extend out of ornately designed collars while the base is made of polished rock-crystal which has been shaped to appear as if it is twisting.

Ganymede Jewelry (bracelets), Hellenistic, ca. 330-300 BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History): New York City, 2019

Like the rams’ heads above, this necklace located at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland utilizes bull heads in its design. The necklace also uses a garnet gemstone, tying together much of what makes Hellenistic period pieces identifiable and what has been discussed in this article thus far…from Persian influences to Ancient Greek motifs.

Necklace with Clasp of Two Bull Heads, Classical-Hellenistic Greek, ca. 4th-3rd century BC, Walters Art Museum: Baltimore, 2019


Some common forms of painting in Ancient Greece were panel and wall paintings. Panel paintings were done on wood boards (panels) in encaustic (wax) or tempera. As with the art above, a great deal of paintings were figurative, though little to none survived to the modern era. Wall paintings were mostly frescoes, paintings done in fresh, wet plaster.

One of the Pitsa tablets. Image Credit.

Descriptions of panel paintings and their creators are noted in literature of the time. One set of panels, the Pitsa tablets, did survive, showing the artistic skills of the Archaic period. The panels are wooden boards painted over in stucco with figures painted in mineral pigments. They show religious scenes centered around nymphs.

According to historians, these tablets were votive offerings. Like a great deal of art through history, we have an example of art created for worship’s sake.

Wall fresco at the Tomb of the Diver. Image Credit.

Wall paintings were used on buildings and as grave decorations. As discussed above, since a lot of buildings didn’t survive over time, neither have a lot of wall paintings. Those that do have been on tombs, such as the Tomb of the Diver.

Ephesus Under Roman Rule

In 129 B.C., King Attalos of Pergamon left Ephesus to the Roman Empire in his will and the city became the seat of the regional Roman governor. The reforms of Caesar Augustus brought Ephesus to its most prosperous time, which lasted until the third century A.D.

Most of the Ephesian ruins seen today such as the enormous amphitheater, the Library of Celsus, the public space (agora) and the aqueducts were built or rebuilt during Augustus’s reign.

During the reign of Tiberius, Ephesus flourished as a port city. A business district was opened around 43 B.C. to service the massive amounts of goods arriving or departing from the man-made harbor and from caravans traveling the ancient Royal Road.

According to some sources, Ephesus was at the time second only to Rome as a cosmopolitan center of culture and commerce.

Facts about Ancient Greek Art 5: the famous works in Gellenictis Period

The famous works during the Hellenistic period included the Dying Gaul, Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Facts about Ancient Greek Art 6: perfection

Perfection is the main character in Greek sculpture. The art of the Greek is very different with the art of Roman people. The Roman people did not mind to show the imperfection on their statues. But the Greek would never do it.

The Greco-Persian Wars - Persian Wars Under Xerxes and Darius

The Persian Wars are usually dated 492-449/448 B.C. However, a conflict started between the Greek poleis in Ionia and the Persian Empire before 499 B.C. There were two mainland invasions of Greece, in 490 (under King Darius) and 480-479 B.C. (under King Xerxes). The Persian Wars ended with the Peace of Callias of 449, but by this time, and as a result of actions taken in Persian War battles, Athens had developed her own empire. Conflict mounted between the Athenians and the allies of Sparta. This conflict would lead to the Peloponnesian War.

Greeks were also involved in ​the conflict with the Persians when they hired on as mercenaries of King Cyrus (401-399) and Persians aided the Spartans during the Peloponnesian War.

The Peloponnesian League was an alliance of mostly the city-states of the Peloponnese led by Sparta. Formed in the 6th century, it became one of the two sides fighting during the Peloponnesian War (431-404).

The Research Library at the Getty Research Institute is not affiliated with public Web sites referenced here nor is it responsible for their content.

The Internet is not the best source for signature information. Signature research can be done by checking the following books to match a signature with a name, initial, or symbol. The volumes may be arranged by last name, alphabetically by first initial, or by shape of a symbol.

All of the following sources are available at the Research Library. If you are interested in using this material onsite, read about Access Policy and Reader Privileges.

Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire Critique et Documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs de Tous les Temps et de Tous les Pays. 14 vols. Paris: Gründ, 1999.

Castagno, John. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800�. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

Castagno, John. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms, 1800–Present. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1989.

Castagno, John. Artists' Monograms and Indiscernible Signatures: An International Directory, 1800�. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1991.

Castagno, John. European Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800�, Including Selected Artists from Other Parts of the World. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1990.

Castagno, John. Latin American Artists' Signatures and Monograms: Colonial Era to 1996. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997.

Castagno, John. Old Masters: Signatures and Monograms, 1400–Born 1800. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996.

Caplan, H. H. and Bob Creps. Encyclopedia of Artists' Signatures, Symbols & Monograms: Old Masters to Modern, North American & European plus More 25,000 Examples. Land O'Lakes, FL: Dealer's Choice Books, 1999.

Falk, Peter Hastings. Dictionary of Signatures & Monograms of American Artists: From the Colonial Period to the Mid 20th Century. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1988.

Goldstein, Franz. Monogrammlexikon 1: Internationales Verzeichnis der Monogramme bildender Künstler seit 1850 = Dictionary of Monograms 1: International List of Monograms in the Visual Arts since 1850, 2nd ed. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999.

Pfisterer, Paul, ed. Monogrammlexikon 2: Internationales Verziechnis der Monogramme bildender Künstler des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts = Dictionary of Monograms 2: International List of Monograms in the Visual Arts of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1995.

Pfisterer, Paul. Signaturenlexikon = Dictionary of Signatures. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1999.

Watch the video: 7. Writing and artists signatures


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