Documenting Your Collections
Info-Muse Network Documentation Guide

Les guides électroniques de la SMQ

Signature (Physical Description)

Field used for ethnology and history collectionsField used for fine and decorative arts collectionsSociété des musées québécois Info-Muse database field


  • This field provides details about the location and form of the artist's or craftsperson's signature on the object.


  • Use this field to provide details on signatures of all kinds, including goldsmiths' marks and cabinetmakers' stamps.
    Example 1

    An altar cross bearing the mark of goldsmith Denis Zola on the base and on the cross

      Object Namealtar cross
      Artist/Maker Zola, Denis
      Material metal, silver; metal, gold
    Signatureon base and on cross: D.Z. in a rectangle with a crown
    Example 2

    A sculpture signed on the back, in the bottom left, A. B. Bélanger

      Object Name sculpture
    Signature on back, b.l.: A. B. Bélanger

Entry rules:

  1. First enter the location of the signature, followed by a colon, a space and the description of the signature, respecting the original spelling.

      Object Namepainting
      Artist/MakerDerain, André
    Signatureb.r.: a derain
  2. When you have to indicate the location of the signature on a two-dimensional or, if applicable, three-dimensional object, consult Table 1 and use the proper abbreviation to indicate the location of the signature.
    Example 1

      Object Name painting
    Signature b.r.: W. Brymner 1892
    Example 2

      Object Name cupboard
    Signature on back, b.l.: A. C. Boulle
  3. When a two-dimensional object is signed on the back, enter "on back", a comma, a space and then the location of the signature.

      Object Name painting
      Artist/Maker Picasso, Pablo
    Signature on back, b.: Picasso

    Table 11

    Key :        
    t. top c. centre b. bottom
    t.c. top centre c.l. centre left b.l. bottom left
    t.l. top left c.r. centre right b.r. bottom right
    t.r. top right b.c. bottom centre    
  4. Use a slash ( / ) to indicate each new line in the signature.

      Object Name medallion
      Artist/Maker Pisanello
    Signature on back, t.r.: apus/pisani/pictoris
  5. For unsigned works of art, enter "unsigned".

      Object Name installation
      Artist/MakerVan Halm, Renée
    Signature unsigned
  6. This field may contain multiple entries separated by a semicolon followed by a space.

      Object Namepainting
      Artist/Maker Cholette, Paul André
    Signature on front, b.r.: P. A. Cholette; on back, c.: Paul André Cholette

  1. Shœnherr, Douglas E., Standards for the descriptive cataloguing of paintings, drawings, watercolours, prints and posters in the Picture Division / by Douglas E. Schoenherr; prepared under the direction of Raymond Vézina. rev. Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada, 1979. © Société des musées du Québec