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Subject:Signatures resources
Posted By: Luis Fri, Jan 06, 2012 IP:

Hi!, I'm looking for signatures chinese books, to be able to identify seals and signatures in paintings, any advice for baying? any online source? thanks a lot!


Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: rat Sun, Jan 08, 2012

Lus, there are two good sources that are fairly easily available. One is by Victoria Contag and Wang Chi-ch'ien: "Seals of Chinese Painters and Collectors of the Ming and Qing Periods"; the 1968 edition and later reprints include a supplement of seals from works in major US collections as of the mid 1960s. The second source is Shanghai Museum, "Zhongguo shuhuajia yinjian kuanshi", in two volumes. There is a third set of books that covers the seals on paintings in the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, but fails to identify which seal is on what painting. Na Zhiliang was the editor of that series I believe but it's quite hard to find for sale.

The challenge in using all of these works is that the seals are grouped by the name of the painter or collector, which is precisely the information we are seeking when we find a seal that we can't identify.

Also note that none of these works is complete; they include only some of the artists' seals; some artists and collectors had hundreds. Finally note that they include the seals of major artists only. Other sources of seal impressions and their owners can be found in auction catalogs of recent years, which sometimes include images of seals on the works being auctioned, and Chinese publications that reproduce the works of individual painters' and often include an appendix showing some of the artist's seal marks.

In other words, no easy answers.

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: luis Sun, Jan 08, 2012

Hi Rat!
Thanks for your answer, not easy but answer at least!
Thanks a lot


Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: rat Tue, Jan 10, 2012

glad to help luis. there are also books that list artists' nicknames and supply their corresponding actual name. You can sometimes find the seal's owner by deciphering the legend on a seal and seeing if the nickname appears in and these books. One useful reference that includes a good index of nicknames is edited by Yu Jianhua and called "Zhongguo meishujia renming cidian". The most widely available books of artist names and nicknames are those compiled by Yang Tingfu and Yang Tongfu, one in 2 volumes on Ming artists, another in 2 volumes on Qing artists.

All of these books are in Chinese though, there's little or nothing in English aside from Davison's books on the marks on porcelain.

don't be dissuaded by tommy's remarks, there are lots of great paintings; almost all of the best are in museums though, many widely published or available for viewing online at msueum sites

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: Luis Thu, Jan 12, 2012

hi Rat!

Thanks for tour info, I see there's enough information to look for,....the only problem is with the language!
If I don't find information in english, I Williams consider a translator then...( I'm not prepared for learning chinese now!)
i'll check the sources you mention, thanks again!


Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: rat Thu, Jan 12, 2012

Luis, deciphering the signature and seals on a given picture is unfortunately not going to get you very far, because the number of fakes and copies of Chinese pictures far outnumbers the number of genuine works. Many come with the "signatures" and "seals" of famous painters attached in order to dupe the ignorant into parting with their money (cf a couple of pictures posted recently on this site, together with persuasive looking "supporting documentation"). On the positive side, for the moment relatively few of the many Chinese newcomers to collecting who are snapping up Chinese art have the connoisseurial skill to discriminate effectively between good/bad, fake/genuine, close copy/bad copy. Others simply buy indiscriminately in hopes of reselling at a higher price at home "the greater fool" theory. Knowing that a lot of the material available within China is questionable, they are scouring the globe for work taken out of China decades ago on the assumption that it must have a better chance of being genuine and that sellers are ignorant of its "true value".

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: Cameron Russell Tue, Jan 22, 2019

does anyone know who this artist is?

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: Bill H Wed, Jan 23, 2019

Your artwork is a copy, likely a print, of a celebrated painting called "Evening Revelry" done by Tang Dynasty painter Gu Hongzhong (顧閎中 - 937–975) and recreated in the 12th century after the original was lost. The red stamp shown here reads from the top right down and across in seal script as "Zhang Lan Oil Painting" (Zhang Lan You Hua - 張蘭, 油畫). I suspect this is Zhang Lan, a well known Chinese art collector and businesswoman who runs a chain of restaurants in China. Perhaps you have a souvenir sold or handed out to patrons of one of her establishments. Here are some relevant links:

If I'm incorrect, I trust that one of our forum art experts will weigh in with a better opinion. However, I would suggest you re-post this query as a separate thread in the main forum.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Mon, Jan 09, 2012

A book of chinese seals & signatures are worthless, because it does not a regesterd with trade mark! And chinese paintings are not a good investment to make. Alot of the famous chinese artists are worthless. Nothing special about their paintings, and nothing special about their art talents. It's just plain art, nothing special. And most of the famous chinese artist are made up!!! Chinese paintings are so easy copy by average artists, and it only seems that seals or signatures are the reason of it's worth.


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Tue, Jan 10, 2012


Chinese seals and signatures, are not a good source to determine 'authentic'. And i personally think that all the chinese paintings in musuems and sold in auction houses. That have
artist seals and collector seals, were not stamp with carvings made from sealstones. I have some chinese sealstones, when used chinese red ink. It did not look anything like the carving of sealstone. To smooth surface and ink also in area carved, and with little applyed pressure to paper. The image i get is a small block of red ink. In china, there are over 30,000 art painters. That make their living, selling their art paintings to tourists. There are no jobs for them, and hope that one day, they will be a famous chinese painter. Sorry to say, no way. Untill their artist sealstone will be 'trade mark'. And start a new book of chinese seals and signatures. The current books now, are worthless in anthenticity.



Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Wed, Jan 11, 2012


If there are great chinese paintings in museums, then the whole world would have known who it was
insured by. And alot a of rich people would have
purchase chinese painting, because it sure beats the stock market by million of miles. And not only the chinese people are the only ones that buys chinese paintings. Well it seems there are experts who can tell a masterpiece painting by pictures alone and don't even know how art is painted. Did anyone here see a chinese artist paints? because i have not seen any chinese painter's that uses a art stand. Did anyone here
know that painting with watercolor ink, is not a highly regarded art work. Very little control when ink is apply, ink thend to flow with applyed on paper. It's more like coloring than painting if you ask me, but alot of chinese people are very blind veiwing artworks. Maybe they are chinese, and can't accept that fact that chinese pantings in musuems, are all fakes.
It is very embarrassing too see how chinese people pretend about how great chinese painter's are. There are only a few great art painter's in the western world. Were the chinese have hundreds
of artists, who are chinese picasso.

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Luis Thu, Jan 12, 2012

hi Tom: I insist: may be you are right, I'm not an expert.
there's an important reason for me in trying to identify signatures and seals, and it is because in my country we have an increasing number of chinese people visiting us, willing to but chinese paintings.
I get paintings from my clients, but neither them nor me have any idea of the artista, then we don't know how much we should ask for, that's reason of my question, has nothing to do if it is great or not.
Thanks for tour answer!


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Luis Thu, Jan 12, 2012

Hi Tom, thanks for your answer.
May be you are right in some points.
i don't agree when you say they are worthless, because I am astonished with the incredible prices they are making in auctions, that has to do, I think, with this "art boom" in the rich China.
i want to learn , thanks anyway!


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Thu, Jan 12, 2012


Well i am wrong about saying chinese paintings are worthless. And yes, there are chinese paintings that worth alot, but not millions of dollars. Thats why i say chinese paintings it is worthless and these are the paintings you see in major auctions and musuems. Did you know that the rich chinese people, who with auction houses. Can easily make any chinese artist's famous. It have done many times ago, and it involves all of the famous chinese artists. There are many old and famous (artists) chinese paintings in museums around the world and have the chinese artists. When at the time (mesuem) got those paintings. The musuem don't know who were those artists were, and it is impossible if they were famous. There are many chinese paintings in musuems that have the only painting by a famous chinese painter. How can the one chinese painter be so famous, if there is only one painting of his. Hardly anyone in his or her era. will know that artist. And after one century no one on earth had heard of that artist, so how can he be so famous. Also if you have chinese clients that like to buy chinese painting from you. I have to say they will not pay more than a hundred dollars on any of your paintings. I not being mean, i just don't want anyone to get scam.

It is good to learn western art/style paintings, then compare it to chinese paintings. Because if anyone believe most chinese paintings are indeed artist paintings, then it is not a masterpiece, it is a miracle paintings.


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Fri, Jan 13, 2012


Rat, mention fake copys far outnumbers the genuine ones. That is very true, i personally saw only 2 paintings from (xu beihong) famous for his horse paintings. And the painting i saw, does not look the same like those in auction houses and mesuem. Thats when i knew that some people took advantage of (xu beihong) name. He was a good chinese artist of mixing western/eastern styles into his horse paintings. And i have only 2, i don't think there is any more than that. As and artists will paint something esle. And the 2 (xu beihong) that i seen, does look very artwork. I can't say if it is a masterpiece, because iam not an art expert. And it's the same with (chang da chien) i only seen 1 painting with that artist name. That i can say is very good artwork. And someone took advantage of their names and flooded the art market with fakes....
Between these 2 artists are 3 paintings that are not seen in auction houses or mesuems. That someone destroyed the true artworks by these 2 chinese artists. It is very sad, what people can
think about for. "MAKING MONEY"


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Luis Arceo Mon, Jan 23, 2012

Hi Tom!

I found by myself, that fakes outnumbers any kind of art, :chinese, european, southamerican, etc.
Let's say: when somebody realize that a painter name can be a big businness....teh start to copy it.
About Chang da Chien, that you mention, I red that he presented her daughter with plenty of paintings dedicated, and she run an exhibition.
I can accept teh market is full of fakes, but it's hard to believe for me there are only two paintings that survived.
In my personal oppinion, or "taste", I prefer very much european art, but, as I wrote you, I have several chinese clients trying to buy everything they find, just that.
The reason for learning a little bit it is just for knowing what I am offering to them.
Anyway, I don't know if you ever dealt with chinese people, but it's very difficult that they are going to pay without knowing what they buy. They take pictures first, they send them to their appraisal in their country, and then they decide.
Now...if auction houses knpw what they say, I have really no idea!

Thanks you very much


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: kim Wed, Feb 01, 2012

My goodness! It's so very hard to do any research, even in this age of tecnology! I found a Chang Da-chien scroll. Called Plum Blossom. It looks very "authentic" and has a museum of history (Taipei) tag. Can you point me in the right direction? I will be most grateful!
Thanks in advance...Kim

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: rat Wed, Feb 01, 2012

probably a reproduction, post a picture and we can try to figure it out. there are LOTS of Zhang fakes out there; there are also lots of Zhang originals.

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: kim Fri, Feb 03, 2012

Well thank you for the response. i can not believe the rabbit hole I have fallen into! I've fallen in love with art all over again. I don't think a picture will do it justice. It's a pretty big piece (5ft 7 inches long). It has 3 large red seals and 3 smaller red ones along the colophon. The thing that makes me go hmmm?? is the Museum of Natural History label (Taipei). It's written in chinese and english. At first I thought maybe the scroll came from a restaurant or institution, because of it's size. I don't think it was sold, say, from the museum gift shop either...again, the size. I've become obcessed with the history. Simply amazing! Yes, Chang Dai-Chien, AKA Tai-chien or Zhang Daqian was a known forger. Still, he has masterpieces worth millions/priceless. And a known forgery can be worth thousands. He was said to have sold/traded many of his works. Only 5,000 out of his 30,000 pieces are accounted for. later in life, He was commissioned to do a huge piece for a hotel, Said to have been the death of him. Whatever I have, it feels to be quality. The paper is grainy, and the custom matting is impeccable. Luckily, I have one large enough wall to display it properly. Although I am fasinated and somewhat lost in the research, I think my first job is to track down this label. But I'm not having any luck with the Museums websites. Any ideas, comments or suggestions are greatly appreciated!!

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: rat Sat, Feb 04, 2012

yes, the detective work can be a lot of fun. the Chinese/English seal though suggests that it most likely is in fact a reproduction sold by the Museum. I don't know when you got your scroll but the Taiwan Museum of Natural History had a Zhang Daqian exhibit as recently as 2009, here's the museum's blurb from the time:|21|493&unkey=55

maybe post some pictures

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Kim Mon, Feb 06, 2012

Yeah...that's what I kinda thought too. I think the size of it made me think that maybe it was used 'promotionally" advertisement for that exhibit perhaps. I've been to many, MANY sites, I've checked out on-line museum gift shops...with no luck. I can't find this exact piece anywhere. I'm gonna give the old library a try tomorrow. The hunt is on! LOL.. Thank you for you're input and time, much appreciated!

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: rat Tue, Feb 07, 2012

post photos here; perhaps someone will recognize something about it.

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: kim Wed, Feb 08, 2012

OK...I'll post a picture...but give me a day. Gotta find and then charge up the old camera. My phone takes crappy pictures. What's intriguing, I can't find any pictures of it anywhere. And it doesn't feel or look like a standard has texture. Hopefully, someone will recognize it. I'll post soon.

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Kim Wed, Feb 08, 2012

Here are the pictures, tell me what you think !

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: rat Thu, Feb 09, 2012

looks nice, definitely a reproduction of the original painting by Zhang and sold by/at the Museum. looks in great shape. this is its full size, it's not a banner advertising the exhibit or anything

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Kim Tue, Feb 07, 2012

Hi again, I wanted to share some new info! I've been googling for weeks, and finally, I think I got something. Apparently, It came from Oregon and was up for auction on the Goodwill on-line auction website in 2011! The picture was removed because it was over a year ago, but it was listed as a Daichien, "Plum blossom" and "published by the Museum Of History, Taipei". (Gotta be it, right?) Since there were no bidders, it floated from store to store until I found it at my local Goodwill in Maine. I LOVE Goodwill! (You should see the electric guitar and furl-lined case I recently bought for 35 bucks!! ) I will continue the Thanks again....Kim

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: tommy Wed, Feb 08, 2012

i would do more research if i were u. the zhang daqian painted in that size are of most quality, compared to the much smaller & much less quality ones. then again not everyone will tell u that.


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Kim Thu, Feb 09, 2012

Thanks! I most certainly will continue the research...(like I have a choice???) I appreciate the kudos and I enjoy your website. I'll let ya know if I find anything substantial.

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: Melissa Thu, Dec 26, 2013

I was wondering if you could tell me anything about this artists signature seals and if there are paintings by Chang Da-Chien that aren't or haven't circulated in the art collection world? I have been trying to research his work TY

Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: kim Fri, Dec 27, 2013

Sorry Melissa, All the info I have I also found on the internet. Good luck in your quest.


Subject:Re: chinese seals
Posted By: rat Wed, Feb 08, 2012

good work!

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: Anita Sun, Jun 12, 2016

Can you identify this signature? I am really battling

Subject:Re: Signatures resources
Posted By: Gary Sun, Apr 08, 2018

You have the same request as I do. I have a painting with an Asian seal in it. Seems to be a mystery.
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